The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 85 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.
Editor note: The following blog originally was published at ZonaZealots.com, a Sports Illustrated-sponsored site as part of the Fansided.com sports network.
Arizona’s 2013 regular-season football schedule has two noticeable omissions with conference teams not playing the round-robin format familiar during the Pac-10 years.
Oregon State and Stanford, two programs which have dominated the Wildcats since 1999, will not play Arizona unless they meet the UA in the Pac-12 championship game. The Beavers and Cardinal are a combined 21-5 against Arizona since 1999, the year after the Wildcats finished 12-1 under Dick Tomey.
The Beavers are 12-2 against the Wildcats in that span. The Cardinal is 9-3.
Replacing them on the schedule this year and next are Cal and Washington State, programs that are a combined 9-12 against the Wildcats since 1999. Oregon State and Stanford beat the UA last year and played in bowl games. Cal and Washington State each finished 3-9.
Three of the better coaches who have faced Arizona — Mike Riley, David Shaw and Chip Kelly (who left Oregon for the Philadelphia Eagles) are not on the schedule in 2013.
With the changes in schedules and opponents, what five games can Arizona look forward to the most?
1. Oregon (Nov. 23 at Arizona Stadium)
Although Kelly is gone, the Ducks feature the spectacular DeAnthony Thomas at running back and efficient quarterback Marcus Mariota. ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. rates Thomas as the best running back prospect for next year’s NFL draft, two spots ahead of Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey. No question about it: This is a game Carey has circled on his calendar. Oregon is 7-1 against the UA in Tucson and 12-2 overall since 1999.
2. UCLA (Nov. 9 at Arizona Stadium)
The Wildcats suffered one of their most humbling defeats in the program’s history last year to UCLA. The 66-10 loss included Matt Scott throwing for a season-low 124 yards. He suffered a concussion and linebacker Hank Hobson was carted off the field after collapsing. UCLA features redshirt sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley Jr., who will play at the stadium where he watched his father — former UA running back Brett Hundley — play in the early 1980s. Arizona has beaten UCLA four consecutive times at Arizona Stadium by an average score of 40.3 to 16.5.
3. USC (Oct. 10 at the L.A. Coliseum)
It will be interesting to see if Lane Kiffin will be coaching in this game for USC. Some preseason banter includes Kiffin not lasting the entire season, similar to when athletic director Pat Haden canned basketball coach Kevin O’Neill in mid-season. The Trojans, featuring Heisman hopeful Marqise Lee at wide receiver, should be in decent shape, however, hosting Washington State, Boston College and Utah State and playing at Hawaii and ASU before facing Arizona. Perhaps a loss to the Wildcats will be the last straw for Kiffin. The UA has been competitive against USC in L.A. in the last three meetings there, winning in 2009 and losing by only a touchdown in 2007 and 2011.
4. ASU (Nov. 30 at Sun Devil Stadium)
The rivalry has taken a peculiar twist with the visiting team winning each of the last four games. Rich Rodriguez has a score to settle against ASU coach Todd Graham, who was once an assistant under Rodriguez at West Virginia. No love lost exists between the two, especially after Graham’s Sun Devils pulled off the upset win in Tucson last season. Will Sutton, who had two tackles for lost yardage against Arizona, returns for ASU.
5. California (Nov. 2 at Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, Calif.)
Former UA offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes faces his former program for the first time. With Dykes three years removed from the program, he is not familiar with most of the Wildcats. He is responsible, however, for making Arizona a relevant passing team for the first time in the Pac-10 era. The Golden Bears will likely struggle early in the season adapting to Dykes’ schemes, most notably at the untested quarterback position. This game should be a high-scoring affair, however, nine games into the season.
The best No. 85 to play for Arizona? According to Anthony Gimino of TucsonCitizen.com that honor belongs to tight end John Fouse (1962-64). He was a two-sport athlete who pitched 40 consecutive shutout innings for the baseball team and was inducted into the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame. He lettered as a tight end and placekicker, twice named to the All-Western Athletic Conference team. He was a two-time All-American in baseball. In 1965, Fouse led the NCAA in ERA and posted a 12-1 record, while hitting 16 home runs with a team-high 64 RBIs. In one memorable game, he pitched a win over No.1-ranked Arizona State, striking out Reggie Jackson, Sal Bando, and Rick Monday.
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.