It is safe to say that not much went right for the Arizona Wildcats football team this year. While they had to compete against some very tough teams on a weekly basis in the Pac-12, winning only three football games is always going to be a disappointment for a school as large the University of Arizona.
Head Coach Rich Rodriguez struggled during his time in Michigan before coming to Arizona, but he was able to get the Wildcats to four straight bowl games for the first time in school history. That impressive streak may have come to an end this year, but the Arizona Wildcats were still able to finish their 2016 season on a high note. The Pac-12 will be represented in seven bowl games this season, but Arizona will obviously not come close to one due to their 1-8 record.
After a promising start to the season, it is actually hard to imagine the Arizona Wildcats winning only three games. They began the season with a close 18-16 loss to a very solid BYU Cougars team. The Wildcats followed up the opening game loss with easy wins over the Grambling State Tigers and Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. The Wildcats got their first test in the Pac-12 when they played the Washington Huskies. Arizona gave the Huskies a tough battle that was eventually decided by short touchdown in overtime. This overtime loss may be the most impressive game of the season for Arizona considering Washington is now the 4th ranked team in the nation.
The close loss to Washington was the start of an eight-game losing streak for the Arizona Wildcats. While five of the teams were ranked at some point during the season, the Wildcats proved they had the talent to compete with almost any team in country. The biggest concern for Arizona is that they were never in a competitive game after the loss to Washington. Their final seven losses were all by more than 10 points. The low point of the season came when the team got dominated by the Washington State Cougars from the opening kickoff in a 69-7 loss.
Despite losing their first eight games in the Pac-12, the Arizona Wildcats proved their resiliency by showing up to play against bitter rival Arizona State in the last game of the season. Coach Rich Rodriguez noticed a huge weakness in the Arizona State defense, and he exploited it throughout the entire game. Arizona quarterback Brandon Dawkins only attempted eight passes in the game, but the Wildcats were still able to get nearly 600 yards on offense. The Arizona rushing attack consistently gashed the Sun Devils defense on the way to an easy 56-35 win.The Arizona Wildcats were certainly hoping to have a better season, but they can take solace in knowing they embarrassed their rivals in the last game of the year.