The Arizona Wildcats can't go to a bowl game. They won't finish with a winning season. They will be major underdogs against rival Arizona State and might struggle to beat Louisiana-Lafayette.
Still, the UA has something to play for. Wide receiver Dan Buckner listed seven somethings.
"For myself, for those around me, for my teammates, for the seniors, for my family, for Arizona, for the alumni," he said. "The whole town watches us, and we've been letting them down this year. Do it for everyone."
Arizona is three days removed from a humbling 34-21 loss to Utah. And yet, the Wildcats not only could win Saturday in Boulder, Colo., they probably should.
Las Vegas oddsmakers installed Arizona (2-7, 1-6) as a 10- to 13-point favorite against a Colorado team that's struggling in its first season in the Pac-12 Conference. The Buffaloes (1-9, 0-6) are coming off a nationally televised 42-17 loss to USC in which Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley set a school record with six touchdown passes.
UA interim coach Tim Kish said Monday he has a handful of reasons to be encouraged. The Wildcats outgained Utah by 150 yards, limited the Utes rushing attack to under 3 yards per carry and converted on 8 of 14 third-down situations. But big mistakes doomed the UA as Utah blocked two punts, intercepted quarterback Nick Foles three times and recovered a Keola Antolin fumble.
By cleaning a few things up, Kish said, the Wildcats have a chance to salvage the final part of a lost season.
"If you allow them to think there's nothing to play for, then that's what you're going to get," Kish said. "That isn't going to happen here. We have a chance to play Saturday, and a chance to win a conference game."
Criner should play; Richardson likely back
Juron Criner reaggravated a knee injury against Utah and did not practice Monday, but he should be able to play this week.
Criner's season has been marred by injury: He underwent an appendectomy in September and, since returning, has dealt with both hand and knee issues. The latest ailment makes it hard for Criner to be explosive, Kish said. Typically the Wildcats' top receiver, Criner was limited to three grabs for 48 yards against the Utes.
"He's trying to go. He's trying to give his best effort," Kish said. "He doesn't feel like he can really plant and push off (when he's hurt)."
Cornerback Shaquille Richardson could return in time for Saturday's game, Kish said, depending on how he feels in practice this week. Richardson suffered a sprained ankle while practicing two weeks ago, was suspended for the UA's Oct. 29 loss at Washington and did not play against Utah because he was hurt.
"Hopefully, he'll be back practicing by (today) or Wednesday," Kish said. "Guys are bumped and bruised. It's typical stuff at the end of the season, but nothing serious."
Carey still maturing
Ka'Deem Carey was suspended for the first half of last weekend's game for violating team policies. But the freshman tailback remains a big part of the Wildcats' future.
Both Kish and running backs coach Garret Chachere said they consider Carey's mistake, which they refused to disclose, to be relatively minor in scope.
"He's a young man that's done a heck of a job for us," Chachere said. "Even though on the surface (the suspension) looks like something, I don't feel like this is going to hamper the growth or the process he's had. … I know we all needed some waking up when we were 18, 19 years old."
Carey rushed five times for 30 yards in the second half against Utah. Though eight games, the freshman from Canyon del Oro High School has run for 304 yards and four TDs, and caught nine passes for 140 yards and a score.
Arizona is listed as a 10-to 13-point favorite against Colorado this weekend, and for good reason. While both the Wildcats and Buffaloes have struggled against common opponents, CU has been worse. Here's a look:
Opponent How Arizona fared How Colo. fared
Stanford Lost by 27 (37-10) Lost by 41 (48-7)
Washington Lost by 11 (42-31) Lost by 28 (52-24)
Oregon Lost by 25 (56-31) Lost by 43 (45-2)
USC Lost by 7 (48-41) Lost by 25 (42-17)
• What: Arizona at Colorado
• When: 12:30 p.m. Saturday
• TV: Fox College Sports (check cable listings for availability)
• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM