Arizona Football

Arizona Wildcats relinquish control of Pac-12 South race like a dropped pass

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Cayleb Jones and Arizona celebrating their only TD in the first quarter (ESPN video capture)

Cayleb Jones and Arizona celebrating their only TD in the first quarter (ESPN video capture)

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Arizona’s Pac-12 South title hopes aren’t over, but the No. 12 Wildcats — like a dropped pass, which they had many of –relinquished control of their destiny with a disappointing 17-7 loss to UCLA tonight.

The Wildcats, who gained the lowest yards (255) in the Rich Rodriguez era, fall to 3-2 in the Pac-12 and 6-2 overall. UCLA (4-2, 7-2) and USC (5-2, 6-3) are tied in the loss column with Arizona but each has defeated the Wildcats.

Arizona can still claim the Pac-12 South title by hoping USC and UCLA lose again and by running the table against Colorado and Washington at home, at Utah and against ASU at home. That’s a tall order with the way Utah and ASU are playing and how Washington can run the ball with running back/linebacker Shaq Thompson. The Huskies also have one of the best defensive fronts in the Pac-12.

The Bruins controlled the line of scrimmage throughout and outgained Arizona 271-80 yards on the ground. UCLA had a time-of-possession edge of 38:09 to 21:51.

The Wildcats, who entered November with only one conference loss for the 11th time in the Pac-10/12 years, continue to be snake-bitten in the conference race at the hands of the Bruins.

UCLA handed Arizona its only only conference loss in 1998 en route to the Pac-10 title. In 1993, in the midst of the Desert Swarm era, the Bruins routed No. 7 Arizona 37-17 at Pasadena, Calif., when the Wildcats were 4-0 in the Pac-10.

The Bruins also beat Arizona in 1985 when the Wildcats started 3-1. In 1986, Arizona started 3-1. The one loss? To UCLA.

Arizona redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon had his worst performance of the season, completing only 18 of 45 passes for 175 yards. He reached 183 consecutive passes without an interception before UCLA’s Tahaan Goodman picked off his last pass.

Goodman’s name is significant with the flow of the game in another way. It appeared as though he targeted Austin Hill with a tackle attempt in the third quarter. The tackle knocked Hill out of the game with a possible concussion.

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2014 PAC-10 SOUTH STANDINGS

Team Conf Pct All Pct
ASU 5-1 .833 7-1 .875
USC 5-2 .714 6-3 .667
UCLA 4-2 .667 7-2 .778
Arizona 3-2 .600 6-2 .750
Utah 3-2 .600 6-2 .750
Colorado 0-6 .000 2-7 .222


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Arizona safety Jourdan Grandon was ejected from the game in the first half because of targeting.

The only highlight of the game, other than Solomon’s touchdown pass to Cayleb Jones in the first quarter, was the play of linebacker Scooby Wright. He tallied a career-high 19 tackles with three sacks and 4.5 tackles for lost yardage.

Wright now has 12 sacks, which ties him for fourth on Arizona’s season list. Tedy Bruschi’s 19 in 1993 is the record.

The Wildcats host Colorado next week in the 100th anniversary of the Wildcats’ first homecoming. A win against the hapless, yet sometimes competitive Buffaloes, will be what the doctor ordered after tonight’s performance heading into the stretch drive.

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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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