Arizona football at Stanford isn't must-win, but Wildcats must play well
This weekend’s game is not a make-it-or-break-it for the Wildcats (3-2, 0-2 Pac-12).
There are plenty of important games, including the matchup with No. 18 Stanford (3-1, 1-1 Pac-12) on Saturday in Palo Alto, Calif.
But to think of the Stanford game or the Oregon State game as must-win game situations is wrong.
It is imperative, however, that the Wildcats win at least one of the next four games. By the end of the stretch, Arizona will have played six consecutive ranked teams, including both the Oregon and Oregon State losses.
If the Wildcats win at least one game, a bowl berth — thought of as unlikely in the preseason — all of a sudden becomes tangible.
Losing all six — that might as well be 2011 part two.
In 2011, the Wildcats and former head coach Mike Stoops embarked on a four-game journey against Oklahoma State, Stanford, Oregon and USC. Arizona struggled and lost all games by double digits — except for USC, which ended 48-41 after a comeback effort by former UA quarterback Nick Foles.
Momentum is a huge part of football, and losing those four games in a row is what led to losses at home against Utah and at Colorado, the Pac-12’s worst team.
This year, losing games against No. 18 Stanford, No. 23 Washington, No. 13 USC and No. 25 UCLA could be catastrophic.
Head coach Rich Rodriguez said he believes the tough schedule is just a part of this team’s overall growth.
“You come to a place like Arizona to play a great schedule, to play in a great league and we have to learn to adapt to it,” Rodriguez said.
As we saw against Oklahoma State, if the Wildcats play perfectly, they can hang with just about any team.
Therein lies the problem.
Arizona won’t play perfect football every week and is also not good enough to beat any of the next four opponents without playing to perfection. Even with a “perfect game,” if such a thing exists in football, Arizona will still need supremely talented teams like the Trojans and Cardinal to play to imperfection.
_— Cameron Moon is journalism senior and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MoonCameron20 _