Arizona Football

Five reasons why today’s Fiesta Bowl is important to Arizona Wildcats’ future



Scooby Heisman

[ezcol_1half id=”” class=”” style=””]

5. Scooby Wright’s Heisman push starts today.

Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright’s award tour this month could conclude with Fiesta Bowl Defensive Player of the Game honors today. If he has another standout performance, his early bid for a Heisman Trophy is solidified with the nation watching in a prestigious bowl.

If Wright does the unthinkable and has a poor performance, he won’t have a significant presence in the Fiesta Bowl to help his Heisman campaign next season.

Some may believe Heisman talk with Wright, a defensive player (no less), is silly. They did not think much of his future out of high school as a two-star recruit, did they?

Wright was the defensive player with the most Heisman votes, finishing No. 9 in the balloting.

Moreover, Wright can make more history today by breaking the season record for tackles for lost yardage. Tom Nelson holds the record of 29 set in 1968. Wright has 28.

The season sack record of 19 set by Tedy Bruschi in 1993 might be out of Wright’s reach. But Wright, who has 14 sacks, can pass Bruschi’s mark of 14.5 (1995) for second place.

4. Strong finish needed after big loss to Oregon.

Will the 51-13 loss to Oregon in the Pac-12 title game be a stigma or source of motivation?


[ezcol_1half_end id=”” class=”” style=””]

Site founder and award-winning sports journalist Javier Morales has published his first e-book, “The Highest Form of Living”, a fiction piece about a young man who overcomes a troubled upbringing without his lost father (a Vietnam War POW) and wayward mother through basketball and hope. His hope is realized through the sport he loves. Basketball enables him to get past his fears. His experience on the court indirectly brings him closer to his parents in a unique, heartfelt way. Please order it at Amazon (for only $4.99) by clicking on the photo:


[ezcol_1half id=”” class=”” style=””]

In the brief three-year history of Arizona football under Rich Rodriguez, the Wildcats have shown the ability to respond after allowing 50 or more points (all losses).

In 2012, Arizona lost 54-48 at Stanford in overtime and bounced back to beat Washington 52-17 in the next game. Later that season, UCLA routed Arizona 66-10. In the following game, Ka’Deem Carey rushed for a Pac-12 record 366 yards in Arizona’s 56-31 victory.

ASU defeated Arizona 58-21 last season and the Wildcats responded with a 42-10 win over Boston College in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl.

The Wildcats need another strong rebound today against Boise State to make this one of the most special seasons in Arizona’s history. Losing twice to end the season after a magical four-game winning streak will take some luster off the season.

3. Top 10 ranking fuels Arizona’s relevancy

The Wildcats have the opportunity to finish in the Top 10 for only the third time in the program’s history.

The 1993 team (10-2) finished ranked No. 10 after beating Miami 29-0 in the Fiesta Bowl. The 1998 team that was 12-1 finished ranked No. 4 after beating Nebraska 23-20 in the Holiday Bowl.

Rodriguez uses the word “relevancy” with his team in the national picture. No better way of achieving that than with a Top 10 ranking that should catapult the Wildcats to a lofty status heading into the 2015 season.

Achieving Top 10 status is one thing. Prolonging that is another. In each year after the Wildcats finished in the Top 10, they could not maintain their elite status.

The 1994 team finished 8-4 with a No. 20 ranking at the end of the season. The Wildcats were ranked as high as No. 6 after a 4-0 start but they went 4-4 the reset of the season.

The 1999 team never recovered after losing at Penn State 41-7 while ranked No. 4 in the nation. Four polling periods later, the Wildcats fell out of the rankings for good that season en route to a 6-6 record.

Next season can wait. For now, the Wildcats have to strengthen their relevancy with a victory today.

2. Recruiting ramifications.

Arizona recruiting coordinator Matt Dudek, crafty when it comes to social media, undoubtedly will use today’s exposure to the Wildcats’ advantage, especially with a victory.


[ezcol_1half_end id=”” class=”” style=””]

Tackle for lost yardage leaders in Arizona history:
[table “” not found /]

[table “” not found /]


The national signing period is less than two months away for the Class of 2015. Arizona has 23 known players as part of the class, three of whom signed national letters of intent and will attend classes in the spring. The other 20 have verbally committed to the program.

With the class almost set, today’s exposure could pay dividends for the Class of 2016 and 2017.

Being the Fiesta Bowl champions can lead to visions of grandeur for national spotlight games in the future. And of course, being in the national eye can draw more interest from NFL scouts.

Oregon has built its reputation by playing in a string of games such as the Fiesta Bowl. That translates into nine of its players, including three juniors, forecast as draft worthy come April.

Arizona has only four possible seniors who might be drafted, according to, and only one of them seems as a sure thing – wide receiver Austin Hill. Running back Terris Jones-Grigsby, offensive tackle Mickey Baucus and free safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant are listed as potential seveth-round picks or free-agent signees.

That will change with wins and impressive performances on a stage such as today’s game.

1. Winning one of College Football Playoff New Year’s 6 bowl games most significant achievement.

Before each of the last couple of seasons, I have published at this site my idea of Arizona’s Top 50 games in the program’s history.

The top three games (in order) coming into this season were Arizona’s upset of No. 1 USC in 1981, the Desert Swarm’s dominance over No. 1 Washington in 1992 and the Fiesta Bowl shutout of Miami in 1994.

Arizona’s win over ASU this season that enabled the Wildcats to claim the Pac-12 South title deserves to unseat the win over the Trojans and Marcus Allen as the No. 1 game. Why? Arizona finished on top of one of college football’s most difficult divisions because of that victory.

With this being the first year of the College Football Playoff bowl system — the Fiesta Bowl is considered one of the New Year’s 6 bowls — a victory over Mountain West conference champ Boise State on that platform is worthy of No. 1 status.

Why would it top the 1994 Fiesta Bowl victory? Arizona will finish ranked higher with one more victory (at 11-3) with a win today. Moreover, Miami was not champion of the Big East in 1993 and its 9-3 record was its worst in nine seasons.

The 1998 Holiday Bowl win over Nebraska is ranked No. 9. It did not rank higher because Nebraska was 9-4 that season, its worst record since 1968.

Boise State is 2-0 in the Fiesta Bowl and enters today’s game with an 11-2 record. Beating the Broncos will be a significant accomplishment. Rodriguez made the comment that Boise State’s roster is littered with Pac-12-potential players.

Imagine that: Arizona’s top 2 games in the history of the program occurring in the same year in a 33-day span.

How it all shakes out is up for debate after what we see from the Arizona Wildcats today. publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales, also an author, is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also has written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
To Top