The Arizona-USC had everything – from questionable calls, to great moments, to poor decisions, to great starts to even better finishes – but a Wildcats win.
Oh, the Wildcats did all they could to get that win late into the Saturday night in Southern California, but it couldn’t pull it off, losing 43-41 in triple overtime.
Triple-overtime against the No. 9 Trojans.
Another near miss against USC, but that’s been Arizona’s longstanding tradition against the Trojans, play close (with a touchdown) then fall.
Saturday night, may have been the most difficult and different as it continues to find its footing – and respect – in college football’s landscape. Hyperbole? Maybe.
Reality, definitely. Arizona is getting better, much better than in past years. Heck, Arizona was a 21-point underdog going in.
“I thought our guys played great football,” said Arizona coach Jedd Fisch on his post-game radio show. “It was a great football game all the way through … both teams played really hard football.”
After Arizona took an early 17-0 lead – something it hadn’t done all season (score early and often in the first quarter) – USC came back to take the lead. And that’s when it got interesting.
Back and forth they went. Touchdown here. Touchdown there. Overtime here. Overtime there.
Arizona looked as good as it had all season. USC looked – again – vulnerable.
Was it because of Arizona? Was it because it’s not as good as many have thought? Maybe both?
“We certainly had a lot of moments where we didn’t play very well, but our team’s fight and resolve to come back and win that, with some of the craziness that happened in that game, I’m really proud,” USC coach Lincoln Riley told reporters in Los Angeles. “A lot of teams don’t win that game. You go down 17 to nothing and you don’t recover.”
They did. But Arizona didn’t waver. Past Arizona teams would have. This one didn’t. Doesn’t. Figure UA has lost three games this year. The first in overtime (Mississippi State). The second to top-10 Washington, in relatively close fashion. And, now Saturday night’s crazy finish.
There are those who will say blah, blah, blah, it’s still another loss. And it is, but this is different. Arizona is making everything more interesting.
It’s doing it with a backup quarterback (Noah Fafita, maybe new starter?), a backup running back (Jonah Coleman, a torturing, pounder who goes for every yard), a sophomore wide receiver (Tetairoa McMillan) who acts like Dennis Rodman on rebounds. And Jacob Cowing, who suffered an injury, left the game, and then returned to have a school-record four touchdowns.
And there’s so many more.
It’s a defense that plays its hearts out.
And an offense that seemingly is finding its footing.
“We said we had a fantastic recruiting class a year ago, and it’s coming to fruition,” Fisch said on his show. “We’re pretty proud of the team we brought in here. We’re very proud of how we’re building this program. I think it’s clearcut on how we’re playing …
“We’ll get there. We’ll turn the corner. And we’ll give Washington State our best game.”