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Arizona vs. Utah: Wildcats display true progress in 34-24 win

The Wildcats didn't play their best game on Saturday night, but they held tough on the road and picked up their seventh win of the season.

Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

If Saturday night's game was played two months ago, Arizona would have lost.

It probably wouldn't have even been a contest.

In what was a true testament to how far this team has come under Rich Rodriguez and the new coaching staff, the Wildcats battled in a tough road environment and escaped with a 34-24 win. It marked the first time all season Arizona won away from home.

The fourth quarter, which UA outscored their opponents 17-0, was the first true sign of progress in the program. The defense had previously been torched late in games. They let winnable games slip through their hands against Stanford and Oregon State, and the Oregon game turned from respectable into a blowout once the defense let up.

Arizona did not allow Utah to score in the final 15 minutes of play. They didn't even let the Utes into the red zone. And this is all from a defense that had three walk-ons and a former walk-on playing on the field at one time.

Talk about doing less with more.

Instead of the offense succumbing to the pressures that come with any road test in the Pac-12, Matt Scott led his team to two touchdown scores and a field goal late in the fourth quarter. Against the Beavers and Cardinal, the Wildcats stalled when given a chance to put the game out of reach. That wasn't the case this time around, and now the Wildcats have seven wins in a year many thought five or six seemed improbable.

It sure hasn't always been a pretty ride under RichRod in Year One of the rebuilding project, but it sure has been a fun one.

Now let's go beat that school up north.