The Associated Press released their preseason top 25 poll on Saturday morning. To no surprise the Arizona Wildcats were not included, but quite a few of their scheduled opponents for this upcoming season were. Let's take a look at the biggest matchups for UA and see where their season could be made or broken.
The first thing that stands out is only four of the 12 games are on the road. For a young Wildcats team this season, that should help new head coach Rich Rodriguez and his staff get the most out of his players with fewer travel days.
Here is the full schedule:
9/1 - Toledo
9/8 - #19 Oklahoma State
9/15 - South Carolina State
9/22 - @ #5 Oregon
9/29 - Oregon State
10/6 - @ #21 Stanford
10/20 - Washington
10/27 - #1 USC
11/3 - @ UCLA
11/10 - Colorado
11/17 - @ Utah
11/23 - Arizona State
The first two games of the season will test Arizona immediately. Toledo returns most of a team that went 9-4 last season with a win in the Military Bowl, while Oklahoma State took home the Fiesta Bowl over Stanford. We'll learn a lot about this team's ability in a hurry.
The trip to Oregon is not going to be a kind one for UA. The Ducks feature a dynamic offense and the 'Cats are not good defensively. Look for this one to get ugly early. The team then returns home for a winnable game against Oregon State.
Another very tough three-game stretch arrives with a game at Stanford, followed by home showdowns with Washington and USC. One win in October would probably be considered an overall win for the program.
The final month of the season brings trips to UCLA and Utah. Colorado will come to Tucson between those two road games. Arizona will close out the regular season with their annual rivalry game against ASU.
This is not an easy schedule by any means, but playing eight home games should be big for the program. As the Wildcats continue to rebuild it's important to limit expectations, but a 6-6 season could be in the cards if the defense is able to improve.
For more on the Wildcats, check out AZ Desert Swarm.