Wildcat Football Prediction Contest
Except for my wife, hardly anyone else remembers when I am spectacularly wrong, so I’ll call one on myself. In last year’s contest, I had the Wildcats finishing the season at 9-3, believing the Nick Foles would lead Arizona to a semi important bowl game. That prediction was straight from the What-Was-I-Thinking-Department.
I did accurately predict that Foles would leave as the most productive U of A quarterback ever, but that was an easy call.
My first inclination after looking at this year’s schedule is to go out on a limb and again say Arizona will go 9-3, rewarding my optimism with Arizona losing only to the three powerhouse teams: Oklahoma State, Oregon and USC. However, there I go again – straight off the proverbial rails – losing all objectivity.
Still, there are reasons to be optimistic for this season’s results. Yes, yes, yes, we’ve all been there before. We’ve bought into ideas, schemes, x’s and o’s, players, coaches, and more, but why does it all feel so incredibly different this time around. Is this going to be another one of those fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me moments, or are we looking at real change within Arizona football?
Indulge me for a moment, and I’ll make my case for optimism:
Fitness and Hitting: Much has been made of the new off season fitness regimen. There is something to it since many pro athletes swear by the Barwis method. We may not have Barwis, but we have the method, and from what we have heard, the team lived by it this summer.
The last few Arizona teams have been so bad at tackling that the equipment managers could have doled out red capes to the defensive unit and fans would not have complained. There are big changes in the defensive scheme, but no matter what the ideology, defense is about pursuit, hitting and tackling. Rich odriguez’s and Jeff Casteel’s emphasis on-one-on one hitting drills is encouraging.
Running Game: Can Arizona lead the conference in rushing? I think it’s a distinct possibility. I am confident about the new offense and the talent that seems to fit it.
Special Teams: Virtually any change would be an improvement as I can’t remember a worse unit in the time that I have watched Arizona football. As we all know, ST play can make a huge difference, and this seems to be a specialty of this staff. The last few years, no one could reasonably suggest that Arizona’s special teams did much of anything right unless the intent was to use special teams as a way to ensure losses.
Matt Scott: If anyone deserves a break, it’s Scott. The decision to red shirt last year was doubly rewarded with the hiring of Rich Rodriquez, who brought an offense that fits Scott better than any other in college football. We know Scott can run. If Scott hits 55-60% of his passes, then look out.
Yes, I’ve omitted the defense. I have no clue as to how effective it will be, but I will ask this; could it be worse than last year? I think not. It may seem that the 3-3-5 Stack will look chaotic at times, but then so did the punishing passing plays by Oklahoma State and running roughshod over us by Oregon. There is no way this Wildcat team will be worse on defense than last year. No way!
Could my scenario play out? Sure, if the planets all align, no one (Matt Scott) gets hurt, and our linebackers and nose guard find themselves to be play makers.
I’ve heard all the stuff about Rodriquez’s system taking years to implement, getting better players, but in my mind I can’t accept low expectations. Sorry, I like to aim high, and besides, I don’t have to win my own contest.
But I’d like one of you to win. So, here is what’s at stake: I’m putting up a $100 gift card to the merchant of your choice to the winner of this year’s football prediction contest. The website, WSR, will also add in a $60 gift card to the University’s official bookstore and gift shop (the one actually on campus) so the winner can purchase a U of A sweatshirt, couple of t-shirts, hats, workout gear or other memorabilia.
So, being the Pollyanna that I am, this is how I think the season could go.
Toledo demolished at home. Nice tune up. A close loss to an Oklahoma State team that has lost some offensive firepower, but is still good enough to compete for the Big 12 title. Cruise control against South Carolina State. An interesting game at Oregon with little brother spread option being given a lesson in how this offense runs with talent running amok. Revenge against Oregon State at home. A surprising win against Stanford. No purple rain when Washington comes to town, a fitting win. A better than you might expect loss to USC, but they will know they were in a game against feisty Wildcats. A crushing blow to UCLA, and all of their Chardonnay sipping, Brie eating fans. The seniors conduct a team only meeting prior the Colorado game, with speeches that invoke the spirit of Button Salmon, and the Buffs are beaten so thoroughly you can almost hear Ralphie whining from his holding pen in Boulder. There is no let down on the road, and the Utes are whipped, and of course, at home – on my birthday no less - the Wildcats dedicate the game to me and play inspired football to beat the Sun Devils and win the Territorial Cup.
Is it possible that the North End Zone will be opened up for this last game of the season because enough of the infrastructure is finished so that there aren’t any safety issues? When I asked the question to Darren Graessle, Director of Ticket Operations and Customer Relations, he said he couldn’t imagine a scenario in which that would be possible. But then, I didn’t tell him it was my birthday either, so let’s not rule it out just yet.
Yes, 9-3 is possible. Perhaps not likely, but I am filled with hope by a new staff that will unleash whatever talent is on this team. And make no doubt about it, there is some real talent on this roster. Maybe not enough, we’ll see.
I’m looking forward to reading through all of your comments and projections. Just take my column below, block it and copy it into the top of your post, and then add your comments below. Good luck and BEAR DOWN!
Cut and past what’s below and then change to reflect your own picks, the tiebreaking season total of points scored and allowed, and any opinions you’d like to share:
Oklahoma State (Loss)
South Carolina State (Win)
Oregon State (Win)
Tie Breaker – Points Scored/Allowed:
I’m predicting Arizona scored 384 points this season while allowing just 240 (384/240).