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Heading into the game, the Arizona Wildcats did not have much of a chance against the Stanford Cardinal. As we predicted in our preview, the 'Cats hung around for the first half, but in the end, Andrew Luck and the offensive attack from the Cardinal would be too much for UA.
Nick Foles actually had a solid game on Saturday evening, even if his teammates did not do too much to help the cause. The senior completed 24 of 33 passes for 239 yards and a touchdown. Foles did not commit a turnover and kept his team in the game in the first half. What more can be asked of him?
Running Backs & Wide Receivers: B
After a stagnant first quarter of play, Arizona's running backs, Keola Antolin and Ka'Deem Carey, finally had some blocking up front and were able to come away with a few big rushes. The two combined for 87 yards on just 15 carries and they did it against a blitz-happy Stanford defense.
As for the receiving unit, Juron Criner was solid-yet-unspectactular in his return from an appendectomy. Dan Bucker made back-to-back grabs along the sideline as the team tried to mount a drive before the half and David Roberts had five big catches for 72 yards. No one was able to come away with a big play -- well, Criner did, but a replay review showed his elbow was down -- but they did the most with what Foles gave them.
Offensive Line: F
It was more of the same for the Wildcats and their offensive line; blown blocking coverages, a complete lack of open holes for the running backs to hit, and an inability to get out and block for the skill players. A sign of progress could be seen in a lack of penalties, but honestly, it's tough to see Arizona scoring too many points with this bad of an offensive line.
Defensive Line: F
If Andrew Luck brought any homework with him on the trip, he probably could have done it while standing in the pocket. UA's defensive line struggled to even get a finger on the quarterback and Stepfan Taylor continually gashed the huge holes opened up for 151 yards.
Not only did the linebackers also struggle to get any pressure on Luck, but they were continually burnt by the Stanford tight ends down the field. Injuries have slowed this unit down, but they came up short once again on Saturday evening, just as they did in the Oklahoma State game.
To be fair, the secondary played pretty well in the first half. Unfortunately for UA, the unit completely fell apart in the second half and was picked apart by Andrew Luck. The quarterback threw for 325 yards and two touchdowns and seemingly had a receiver wide open down the field on every play in the second half. Trevin Wade continued to play well and Shaquille Richardson had a few nice pass breakups, but all-in-all, it was a sub-par performance.
Special Teams: F
Honestly, do we expect anything different at this point? Two huge field goals were missed in the second quarter by Jaime Salazar that would have tied the game and an imbecilic offside penalty on fourth down basically ended the game for the 'Cats. If this program wants to take the next step, the horrendous special teams play has to end.
The Arizona Wildcats were facing a tall task and a ridiculously tough schedule that took them from eighth-ranked Oklahoma Cowboys to the sixth-ranked Stanford Cardinal. It's escapes rational thought why the Wildcats were only a 10-point underdog going into this game. As it turned out, Andrew Luck and the Cardinals did what we all thought they would do and stomped Mike Stoops team into the desert dust.
For the first half, anyway, Arizona kept it a respectable game and were down just 16-10 at the half. But the Cardinal came out smoking in the third quarter began to take control of the game. After punting on their first possession, Stanford scored touchdowns on the next three to put the game away. The three drives went 81, 100, and 91 yards respectively.
In the battle of two quarterbacks who will be playing Sunday football, it was Heisman candidate Andrew Luck who came out on top. Luck threw for 325 yards on 20-31 passing with two touchdowns. That earned him a passer rating of 174. Arizona's Nick Foles wasn't bad by any stretch. He went 24-33 for 239 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions which got him a passer rating of 144.
The Cardinals dropped a total 567 yards on the Wildcats defense with 242 of that on the ground.
It doesn't get any easier for the Wildcats as they get to face their third highly-ranked team in a row next week when they host the Oregon Ducks. Stanford has a bye next week and then will face UCLA on October 1st.
For more on this game, visit AZ Desert Swarm.
Nick Foles and the Arizona Wildcats will welcome in the highly-ranked Stanford Cardinal and Heisman candidate Andrew Luck into Tucson this weekend for a showdown that will be nationally televised on ESPN. Here is all of the game day information and coverage that you will need:
Kickoff: 10:45 EDT / 7:45 PST
Venue: Arizona Stadium; 58,000 capacity
Television: ESPN - Carter Blackburn (pxp), Brock Huard (analyst), Shelley Smith (reporter)
Radio: Arizona Radio Network 1290 AM; Sirius 211, XM 190
Online Viewing: ESPN3.com, where available. Check with your internet provider.
All-Time Series: Arizona leads 14-12
Last Meeting: Stanford 42 - Arizona 17. The Wildcats won the last matchup in Tucson back in 2009.
Opening Lines: The 'Cats are a 10-point underdog.
Despite being underdogs at home, this is a big game for Mike Stoops and his program. A win under the bright lights with ESPN in attendance would erase all of the ugly memories from the letdown at Oklahoma State last weekend and could propel the program nicely into the rest of Pac-12 play. Heck, even a close defeat would probably bring some confidence back to the UA faithful.
A big loss, though, would be incredibly deflating to the team and fans and Stoops' job would probably be in jeopardy. Arizona has not defeated a BCS conference team since October of 2010 and the program probably cannot take another embarrassing loss at home.
If you're looking for more Arizona news, AZ Desert Swarm is the place for you.
This was going to be a tough game for the Arizona Wildcats even with a completely healthy team. Nearly half of the defense will be sidelined with injuries and no one still quite knows the availability of Juron Criner. With all of the questions surrounding both sides of the ball -- along with the always-present concerns of the kicking game -- it would be an incredible shock if UA was able to stun the Cardinal on Saturday night.
That being said, this has been a program over the last few seasons that has always been able to come away with a big victory, even if no one pegged the team to do so. Whether it be knocking off the No. 8 ranked Cal Bears in 2006, the No. 2 ranked Oregon Ducks in 2007, a big road win at USC to clinch 2nd place in the Pac-10 in 2009, or the home upset over Iowa last season, Arizona has come up big in big games.
Will coach Stoops be able to pull off one more magical win against a top-ranked opponent? Maybe, maybe not. But if the head coach has been known for one thing throughout his tenure at UA -- other than his sideline antics, of course -- it is that he is a great motivator and has came away with a few big victories when the odds were stacked against him and his team.
All of this being said, I still cannot fathom a possible way where the Wildcats come away with a victory on ESPN this evening. Andrew Luck is the best quarterback in America, Stepfan Taylor is capable of tearing a defense apart on the ground, and the Cardinal feature one of the better defensive units around.
The Zona Zoo and the sellout crowd of nearly 60,000 will be heard from early as Nick Foles and Arizona hang around, but in the end, Luck proves his candidacy for being the best player in college football and leads Stanford to a 38-21 victory.
If Arizona wants to pull the upset on Saturday evening, a lot of things are going to have to go right for the Wildcats. While there are always unknown variables once the game begins, there are a few aspects of the game the 'Cats will need to execute early and often if they hope to stay close to Andrew Luck and the Cardinal.
Run the football early and effectively:
Stanford may have the best offensive unit in the country. UA simply cannot allow them to control the football all game and throw it down the field for a bunch of touchdowns. That begins with ball control on our part, and that happens with solid rushing performances from Keola Antolin and Ka'Deem Carey.
Arizona needs to avoid an early deficit and run the ball at least once whenever the chains move. Stanford will be gearing up for Nick Foles to throw the ball and there's a chance the 'Cats could catch the defense sleeping with a big run or two. The game may depend on it.
Pressure Andrew Luck:
The Wildcats are not going to be able to stop Andrew Luck. There isn't a defense in the country that can do that. What they can do, though, is make life tough on all-american. Arizona Stadium figures to be a raucous environment with a top-10 team and ESPN in town; if the crowd and defensive front-seven are able to slow down Luck with pressure early, it may leave the door open for Arizona to get some early momentum.
Bend, don't break on defense:
Luck has a cannon of an arm and is capable of throwing the football deep down the field. Stepfan Taylor can hit a hole and be in the secondary with the blink of an eye. If Arizona goes all-out on defense, the team is probably going to get burned for a lot of yards. It is imperative for the safeties to keep everything in front of them and to not allow the Cardinal to break the game open with a few deep plays.
DON'T BE STUPID:
Whatever you do this weekend, Arizona, do not lose the game because of stupid turnovers and penalties. Emotions will be high and the very last thing the team needs is to give 15 extra yards to Luck's passing attack with a personal foul or move Foles back 10 yards with a silly holding penalty. Execute clean hits, don't try and be the hero, and just play football.
For more UA coverage, Arizona Desert Swarm is the place to go.
Ka'Deem Carey may not have played in the first half of the Northern Arizona and Oklahoma State games, but do not expect that to be the case this weekend against the Stanford Cardinal. According to Anthony Gimino of the Tucson Citizen, the highly talented freshman may see a much bigger workload this time around:
"We have to get him more touches for sure," Stoops said Monday. "Ka'Deem is another player who we feel is worthy of helping us become a better football team.
"We have to force it," Stoops continued, talking about getting Carey into games earlier. "He's too good of a player. He can run and make something happen for us. We have to get playmakers in there and give him an opportunity to see what he can do."
As for Carey, the fans cannot wait to see the local product shine under the bright lights. The centerpiece to the 2011 recruiting class, the strong-yet-quick running back has already recorded 78 yards on just 15 carries. Compare that to senior Keola Antolin and his 69 yards -- 21 of which came on one play -- on 19 carries and it is easy to see why a change may be coming.
"I just love running the football," he said.
"But in this league you have to be an all-around player. Just picking up the blitz is the main key to me. They came at you a hundred miles per hour. But I think it's coming along well. I've been out there, putting in extra time learning to pick up the blitz."
If there is an aspect of Carey's game that may or may not be up to par, it would be his pass protection. Stanford runs a tricky 3-4 defensive scheme and blitzes can come from all areas. If the freshman is unable to protect Nick Foles and find the running lanes, it will be back to more carries in the fourth quarter. If he is able to improve in these areas, though, the future of the running back position for Arizona may be here to stay.
The guys at Arizona Desert Swarm, SB Nation's UA blog, recently exchanged questions with the Stanford bloggers of Rule Of Tree. Be sure to check it out.
With the start of Pac-12 play at home for the Arizona Wildcats this season, they will certainly have their hands full at Arizona Stadium with the No. 6 Stanford Cardinal in town this Saturday. The 'Cats are coming off a disheartening loss to No. 8 Oklahoma State last week, but will look to bounce back in a big way with an upset against Heisman hopeful Andrew Luck and the rest of the Stanford squad.
According to OddShark.com Stanford is a 10 point favorite this time around, with an over under of 110; so they're obviously expecting some offense in this matchup. Bodog has the same spread, while Bet Online went with 9.5, and Top Bet 10.5. You have a few options to bet on, but not much variation to play with, so make you decisions wisely (and responsibly of course).
The question will be how much Arizona can get out of their running game, because if they can move the chains on the ground it will only open up more opportunities for Nick Foles and the passing game. Should prove to be a high octane meeting of these Pac-12 rivals out in Tucson.
Kickoff is set for 8:45 pm MT with coverage on ESPN and ESPN 3.
Both Arizona Wildcats offensive playmakers Juron Criner and Daniel Jenkins are questionable for Saturday's game against the Stanford Cardinal.