Thursday's 'little picture' has big consequences for UA

2010-11-29T00:00:00Z Thursday's 'little picture' has big consequences for UARyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 29, 2010 12:00 am  • 

So this is how it ends.

For what seems like the 20th straight season, the Arizona Wildcats will take on rival Arizona State with in-state pride - and a bowl game - on the line.

Well, at least for one team.

The UA (7-4 overall, 4-4 Pac-10) will likely punch a ticket to either the Alamo Bowl or Holiday Bowl with a win Thursday night at Arizona Stadium. ASU (5-6, 3-5) was eliminated from bowl contention Saturday, when Georgia defeated Georgia Tech to become the 70th bowl-eligible team in the country.

The Sun Devils' odds were long even before then.

ASU would have had to upset Arizona and petition the NCAA to allow both its wins against NCAA Division I-AA teams to count toward its bowl-eligibility just to qualify as an at-large team.

Not that UA coach Mike Stoops sees the Sun Devils quitting this week; if anything, it may make the visitors from Tempe more desperate.

"It doesn't matter what our record is when we play them," he said. "We have a bowl game in the big picture. The little picture is that you want to beat Arizona State. We don't want to go into our bowl game on a four-game losing streak."

Nor does Stoops want to snap a two-game winning streak against the Devils. Arizona punched a ticket to the Las Vegas Bowl in 2008 by the defeating its rival 31-10 in Tucson. Alex Zendejas' game-winning field goal a year ago kept the UA in the hunt for an upper-tier game; the Wildcats earned a spot in the Holiday Bowl by defeating USC a week later.

"We're going to try to go for a three-peat," UA tailback Nicolas Grigsby said.

Arizona's bowl picture came into focus over the weekend thanks to a last-second win by Washington, ASU's throttling of UCLA and Stanford's rout of Oregon State.

The Huskies, who knocked Cal out of bowl contention on Chris Polk's 1-yard run on the final play of regulation, can qualify for the postseason by defeating rival Washington State this week. Oregon State, which fell to 5-6 after losing to Stanford, would have to upset No. 1 Oregon just to qualify as an at-large team.

USC cannot play in the postseason because of NCAA sanctions, while UCLA, Cal and Washington State will all finish with sub-.500 records.

But enough bowl chatter.

Arizona's season, for now, hinges on the Wildcats' ability to defeat their rivals on a national stage.

"We're looking forward to ASU. We always want to beat our rivals," safety Adam Hall said. "We could go 0-11 and beat ASU and the season would be - well, not successful - but worthwhile. It's one of those things. It's a short turnaround, but we have to be ready."

PAC-10 standings

Pac-10 Overall Points W L W L Streak For Opp.

Oregon 8 0 11 0 W11 555 201

Stanford 8 1 11 1 W7 484 214

Arizona 4 4 7 4 L3 328 229

USC 4 4 7 5 L2 375 333

Oregon State 4 4 5 6 L1 273 285

Washington 4 4 5 6 W2 230 346

Arizona State 3 5 5 6 W1 357 271

California 3 6 5 7 L3 310 271

UCLA 2 6 4 7 L2 228 336

Washington State 1 7 2 9 W1 207 395

FRIDAY

Arizona St. 55, UCLA 34

Oregon 48, Arizona 29

SATURDAY

Washington 16, California 13

Stanford 38, Oregon St. 0

Notre Dame 20, USC 16

Bye: Washington St.

THURSDAY

Arizona St. at Arizona, 6 p.m.

SATURDAY

Oregon at Oregon St., 1:30 p.m.

Wash. at Wash. St., 5 p.m.

USC at UCLA, 8:30 p.m.

Byes: California, Stanford

Up next

• What: Arizona State at Arizona

• When: 6 p.m. Thursday

• TV: ESPN

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)

Bowl ramifications

Ten times in the last 15 years, the Territorial Cup has been played with postseason stakes on the line. Here's a look:

• 1995: Arizona defeats ASU 31-28, knocking the Devils out of a bowl game. Both teams finish 6-5.

• 1996: ASU defeats Arizona 56-14 on its way to a Rose Bowl. The Wildcats finish 5-6 and are left out of the postseason.

• 1997: Arizona earns a bid to the Insight.com bowl with a 28-16 win.

• 1999: The Sun Devils win 42-27, keeping Arizona (6-6) out of the postseason. ASU plays in the Aloha Bowl.

• 2000: ASU wins 30-17 in Dick Tomey's final game as Arizona coach. The Wildcats miss the postseason at 5-6, while ASU (6-5) heads back to the Aloha Bowl.

• 2005: Arizona State wins 23-20 and, at 6-5, receives an invitation to the Insight Bowl.

• 2006: Arizona State wins 28-14 in Tucson, keeping Arizona (6-6) out of the bowls. ASU finishes 7-5 in the regular season, earning a bid to the Hawaii Bowl.

• 2007: ASU wins 20-17, keeping Arizona (5-7) out of the postseason. The Sun Devils play in the Holiday Bowl.

• 2008: Arizona punches its ticket to the Las Vegas Bowl with a 31-10 win. ASU finishes 5-7, missing the postseason.

• 2009: Arizona clinches a bowl bid with a 20-17 win in Tempe. ASU falls to 4-8.

The Arizona Wildcats fell out of both the Associated Press and USA Today coaches polls Sunday, two days after losing to No. 1 Oregon 48-29.

The Wildcats were the top vote-getter among unranked teams, setting them up for a possible return if they can defeat rival Arizona State on Thursday.

AP TOP 25

With first-place votes in parentheses, records through Nov. 27 and previous ranking.

1. Oregon (36) 11-0 1

2. Auburn (23) 12-0 2

3. TCU (1) 12-0 4

4. Wisconsin 11-1 5

5. Stanford 11-1 7

6. Ohio St. 11-1 8

7. Michigan St. 11-1 11

8. Arkansas 10-2 12

9. Boise St. 10-1 3

10. Oklahoma 10-2 14

11. LSU 10-2 6

12. Virginia Tech 10-2 13

13. Nebraska 10-2 16

14. Nevada 11-1 19

15. Missouri 10-2 15

16. Oklahoma St. 10-2 10

17. Alabama 9-3 9

18. South Carolina 9-3 18

19. Texas A&M 9-3 17

20. Florida St. 9-3 22

21. Utah 10-2 23

22. Mississippi St. 8-4 25

23. West Virginia 8-3 -

24. N. Illinois 10-2 -

25. Hawaii 9-3 -

Others receiving votes: Arizona 34, Maryland 29, Tulsa 28, Connecticut 16, Navy 14, UCF 12, San Diego St. 5, Air Force 2, N.C. State 2.

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