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Arizona's Rose Bowl chances reminiscent of choked 1993 season

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When the UA football team was vying for its first-ever Rose Bowl trip in 1993, Defensive End Tedy Bruschi and the Wildcats shrunk in the season?s defining game that helped decide the conference championship.

In 1993, the UA football team was hanging out toward the top of the Pacific 10 Conference standings and controlled its own destiny for its first-ever trip to the Rose Bowl.


With just a few games remaining in the regular season, Arizona had a hyped-up showdown with a top 15 conference foe to determine which team would have the inside track to the Pac 10 Championship.

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The more things change, the more they stay the same.


Flash forward 16 years to 2009. Arizona once again controls its own conference fate with just a few regular season games left, and a meeting this Saturday against Oregon, ranked 11 in The Associated Press and Coaches' polls.


The winner of the Wildcats' game, just like in 1993, will have a giant boost on the way to a potential conference championship.


Having started out 4-0 in the Pac-10, the 1993 Arizona team traveled to 3-1 UCLA, ranked 15 in the nation, on Oct. 30 in hopes that it would be playing on the same Rose Bowl field a few months later. The game was hyped as the biggest in Arizona football history.


Unfortunately for the Wildcats, excitement quickly turned to disappointment, with Arizona falling to the Bruins, 37-17.


UCLA took its Pac-10 lead and three games later, UCLA, Arizona and USC finished tied atop the conference standings. UCLA held the tiebreak, squashing any hopes Wildcat fans had of breaking back into the Rose Bowl picture.


While the 1993 team did rebound with a Fiesta Bowl victory that year and finished at No. 10, higher in the final AP Poll than No. 18 UCLA, the UA's Rose Bowl drought continued. It is a drought that continues to this day, almost two decades later, and will only get drier with a loss to Oregon on Saturday.


This year's team will not be as fortunate as in 1993 if the Wildcats shrink again in their big-time game. A loss would likely drop Arizona to fifth in the Pac 10 standings with a possible bid to the Poinsettia Bowl or a return trip to the Las Vegas Bowl, and would crush the dreams of a Rose Bowl or probably even a Holiday Bowl birth.


Once again, Arizona controls its own destiny with a few games left. Once again, a big-time showdown with a high-ranked conference foe will help decide Arizona's Pac 10 fate. Once again, UA fans are hoping and praying for a miracle victory to keep the hope alive for the school's first trip to the Rose Bowl.


Will the Wildcats record a Rose-Bowl-dream-saving win? Or will they fall in disappointing and heartbreaking fashion, once again?


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