Oh, what a month it’s been for Arizona football.
Saturday night against UCLA it all came together – like it has the previous two weeks – in a 27-10 win at Arizona Stadium.
Like it’s been for a month now, everything has meshed for the surging Wildcats.
Running game has bashed its way through opponents and not just any opponents but three ranked ones.
Washington State, gone.
Oregon State, disposed.
And now powder blue UCLA.
Bye, bye, bye.
The red-and-blue Cats have found a new level by using a team theme.
The passing game has caught hard-to-reach balls for touchdowns. Tetairoa McMillan & Co., have been sensational.
Special teams have actually been special.
Noah Fifita doesn’t overthink things and just does what is needed – in a big way.
The defense has been um, terrific in more ways than one.
It’s been a build up of unbelievable performances to get to 6-3.
“I would say it just feels good, it feels amazing,” said UA’s Martell Irby, about the last month. “Because it’s not just like we’ve been working since September since the season started or August. This has been since January. Since I got here. This has been the mentality of the team. We don’t worry about anything else other than what goes on inside the building. So, to be able to be at this point. Yeah, we know we have more work to be done, but in this moment it feels amazing. We’re going to get back to the drawing board (Sunday), practice, full go. But right now, it feels amazing. This month has been amazing. We’re just going to continue to trust the process because that’s what got us here.”
And here is being thought about as a bowl-bound team that should be respected.
Figure that in Arizona’s three losses it has lost by a combined 16 points. An inch or two in the Mississippi State game, a touchdown and point vs. Washington and a crazy finish vs. USC.
An inch there, a play there … and who knows?
What coach Jedd Fisch does know is his team belongs in the top 25.
“I really do,” he said after Saturday’s big game. “I think we’ve earned that right. … I think that our team has proven that they deserve to be in that conversation, and hopefully (Sunday) we’ll find out if we are. And if we’re not we’ll just have to go to work and try to win the next one.”
What we definitely know is Arizona is headed to a bowl game for the first time since 2017. Six wins have made that happen, with three more left.
“We’re bowling … We’re excited about that,” Fisch said. “We’re excited about getting to that spot. Six wins is a big deal. And for us to get there, nine games into the season, we’re really excited about that.”
It took one of Arizona’s better games to get here. But didn’t we say that last week on win No. 5? Or the game before when it crushed Washington State?
Point being, Arizona has been building to this: good, sound football. This wasn’t the team that played UTEP in the season opener. This wasn’t the team that struggled to get past Stanford.
But it is the team that almost stole the game vs. Mississippi State and the team that played well enough to beat USC but didn’t.
Then again, this isn’t your father’s Arizona football team. It’s built differently, plays differently.
“We’re not content with where we are,” Fisch said. “Our goal is to be better next Saturday at 12 o’clock in Boulder (Colorado) than we were (Saturday) at 7:45. But, we will enjoy this one. Our team is enjoying it right now. And then, as I said, then we’ll get back to work and the best thing about this is we get to do it again next week.”