Arizona Football

Arizona comfortable underdog, must become uncomfortable favorite

FBCountdown

The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 92 days away. From now until then, this Web site will count down the days with facts about the Wildcats, their players, coaching staff and opponents. This is not a ranking, only a list of 100 facts and observances related to the 2013 Arizona football team and coach Rich Rodriguez.

If you love the underdog, you love Arizona.

According to Las Vegas odds makers, the Wildcats currently have 500-to-1 odds of winning the BCS National Championship in January. That places them very low on the expectation meter, tied for eighth among Pac-12 schools.

The odd makers, much like Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News, are leery of the UA breaking in a new quarterback without receiver Austin Hill (likely out for the season after tearing his ACL in spring drills). Wilner picks Arizona to finish fifth among six teams in the Pac-12 South this season.

“Between Austin Hill’s season-ending injury and Ka’Deem Carey’s legal woes/maturity issues, something doesn’t feel right about the Wildcats,” Wilner writes in his blog, one of the most read in the Pac-12 region.

The BCS title game is at the Rose Bowl this season. Arizona has never played in the Rose Bowl game, so naturally, any thoughts of the Wildcats playing for a national title are far fetched.

Alabama (5-to-2 odds), Ohio State (6-1) and Oregon (7-1) are the three highest favored teams.

The rest of the Pac-12: Stanford 18-1, UCLA 40-1, USC 60-1, ASU 100-1, Washington 100-1 and Utah 500-1. Cal, Washington State and Colorado are not listed because each are projected to have another losing season.

BCSChampionship

Other than Utah, Arizona has similar odds of going all the way as Texas Tech, Vanderbilt, Missouri, Ole Miss and Georgia Tech. Programs below them — with 1,000-to-1 odds of winning the BCS title — include Auburn, North Carolina State, Mississippi State, Iowa and West Virginia.

The Wildcats had the same 500-to-1 odds entering last season. USC was an 8-to-1 favorite, tied with Oregon and Oklahoma for the third-best odds. The Trojans and Sooners finished with disappointing seasons. Anything can happen, but Arizona has yet to show it belongs among the nation’s elite, especially after the John Mackovic fiasco and the Mike Stoops flame out.

For Arizona to improve its odds and image nationally, the Wildcats must sustain success under Rich Rodriguez over an extended period of time. They are currently on the outside looking in, but Rodriguez gives them a popular name to generate interest nationally.

For Arizona to become relative again, it must achieve at least 10 wins in a season and back that up. The Wildcats have not won more than eight games in a season since finishing 12-1 in 1998, 14 long years.

That is the second-longest drought for a double-digit victory season since Arizona started playing 11-game schedules in 1971. It took 23 years for the UA to finally reach at least 10 wins in 1993, when the Desert Swarm defense helped generate a 10-2 record. Five years later, Arizona finished 12-1 and then vanished.

The underdog role is a comfortable fit for Arizona. The nation will take notice when the Wildcats handle the pressure as a favorite.

“We’ve got to learn to enjoy being uncomfortable,” Rodriguez told reporters last season before the Wildcats played a late-season game at Utah.

Rob Waldrop's No, 92 is retired at Arizona

Rob Waldrop’s No, 92 is retired at Arizona

“I don’t want us to be comfortable, and it’s a tendency in society to get comfortable. I like being uncomfortable. Things in life aren’t going to be all smooth. They need to learn to be uncomfortable.”

* * * * *

The best No. 92 to play for Arizona? None other than Rob Waldrop, the anchor of the Desert Swarm as nose guard. Waldrop won the 1993 Outland Trophy. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports, TucsonCitizen.com and Sports Illustrated-sponsored site ZonaZealots.com.

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