Arizona Football

Off-the-beaten-path storylines: Stanford Cardinal at Arizona Wildcats


Random thoughts while wondering if Arizona coming off its first off week in two seasons rested to the degree similar to what happened two years ago when the Wildcats had more than 10 days off: A 31-24 win at Oregon on Oct. 2 after last playing Sept 20 against Cal in the “Hill Mary” game and a 59-37 win at Washington State two weeks after its previous game against USC at home (28-26 loss). ….

Rich Rodriguez is 3-2 following an in-season off week at Arizona. Did you know his former school West Virginia has already enjoyed two bye weeks this season? If factoring in bowl games, which included at least two weeks between games, Arizona is 6-3 with ample rest before a game under Rodriguez. Stanford, meanwhile, is coming off a bruising 10-5 loss at home against upstart Colorado. Another way to look at this: Although Arizona has suffered numerous injuries, most notably at the quarterback, running back and defensive line positions, Rodriguez and crew can not use the excuse of not having a week off this time around (unlike last season’s brutal schedule). With a 2-5 record and Arizona needing to finish at least 4-1 to qualify for a bowl it is put-up or shut-up time. …

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— Stanford coach David Shaw, like UCLA’s Jim Mora, has never lost to Arizona and Rodriguez. Shaw can improve to 4-0 against Arizona and 3-0 against Rodriguez with a victory tonight. His Cardinal has beaten Arizona by scores of 37-10 in 2011 in Tucson (with Mike Stoops at Arizona), 54-48 in overtime in 2012 at Palo Alto (Rodriguez’s first season) and 55-17 last season in Palo Alto after going two years without facing the Wildcats. Stanford’s average score in those three victories under Shaw: 48.7 points. Stanford ranks No. 10 in the Pac-12 in scoring offense (averaging 25 points a game) this season. Its offense ranks No. 109 in the FBS averaging only 342 yards a game. If Stanford comes close to 30 points tonight, it probably will mean another long game for Rodriguez and Arizona against the Cardinal and Christian McCaffrey. …


— Stanford will not play Arizona in 2017 and 2018 (unless they play in the Pac-12 title game), so this is the Wildcats’ last chance to defeat Shaw and the Cardinal until 2019. The Wildcats also miss Washington in the next two seasons. For once the Schedule Gods give the Wildcats a break because Stanford figures to rebound next season and Chris Petersen has Washington here to stay with a young highly competitive group that will get better. Yes, they will improve despite the Huskies’ No. 4 ranking. I believe Washington has not come close to reaching its potential under Petersen. They are over-ranked now in my opinion … This season, Arizona could have sure used the opportunity to play declining Oregon and defenseless Cal, but those programs missed the Wildcats the last two years. …

— Arizona linebacker Michael Barton has an extra incentive playing the Cardinal after facing them as a rival with Cal in the three previous seasons. Barton, a graduate transfer from Cal, had a career-high 13 tackles against Stanford as a redshirt freshman in 2013. He also recorded a sack in the Golden Bears’ 63-13 loss to the Cardinal in Palo Alto that day. Ty Montgomery scored five touchdowns against Barton and Cal’s defense. Before that game, Barton told the media about the challenge of facing Stanford as a 1-10 team in Sonny Dykes’ first season: “We need a little bit of magic. In games like this, something spectacular always happens. If the ball rolls our way a few times, we’ll be all right as long as we play sound football.” Barton was 0-3 against Stanford while at Cal. Arizona does not really need a little bit of magic against Stanford’s struggling team tonight, just an effective performance ….

— McCaffrey ran wild against Arizona in Stanford’s lopsided win last season with 260 all-purpose yards, including 156 yards rushing. The Wildcats did not have the firepower to counterattack McCaffrey and veteran QB Kevin Hogan. Rodriguez did not play starting QB Anu Solomon, who was out with a concussion. Nick Wilson was limited to only 46 yards rushing by a stout Stanford defense. Solomon and Wilson might not step on the field for tonight’s game. Wilson is trying to nurse a lingering sore ankle. Solomon has not played since the season opener against BYU because of a knee injury. If Solomon does not play, that means Arizona’s fourth-leading passer in school history will have never played against one of the Pac-12’s top teams — Stanford — in his four-year career to this point. Again, the Cardinal did not play Arizona in 2013 and 2014. Solomon redshirted as a freshman in 2013 and started his career in 2014. Don’t you think he really wants to get some reps against the Cardinal? …

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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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