For the Arizona Wildcats, nothing was expected this season. They were replacing so many new players in so many places. They brought back 12 starters from last season. They were breaking in a freshman quarterback and a freshman running back. Their star wide receiver was a sophomore. Their best defensive player is a sophomore. This was a young group with depth issues on defense and only a senior wide receivers group to really rely on with much confidence.
And they won the Pac-12 South.
No team probably emblemized the chaotic anarchy that plagued this conference the way Arizona did. They had to hold on for dear life to survive the upset bid from UTSA. They needed a Hail Mary to beat Cal. They went into Autzen and dominated the Oregon Ducks for the second year in a row. They came a missed field goal away from coming back and shocking USC. They needed Chris Petersen not to run out the clock against Washington.
Anu Solomon found Samajie Grant twice for two big touchdowns; on one play Grant did all the running to make the score, on the other Solomon scrambled all around the field to find Grant. Arizona recovered a fumble for a touchdown and blocked a punt, plus got a pick in the red zone to set up another short field. Nick Wilson ran all over Arizona State, finishing up an impressive freshman campaign where he spread and shredded all season. Scooby Wright was everywhere, dominating ASU's line at every criticla moment and registering big sacks. All three parts of the team came together to issue this victory, with ASU just not able to keep pace.
It has to be sweet redemption for Rich Rodriguez, who three years into his tenure in Tucson has found a home for his wild and crazy offense that has been allowed to flourish in a short period. The Wildcats are all geared up to at least go to the Fiesta Bowl win or lose against Oregon, and might have a good shot at the College Football Playoff if chaos befalls the rest of their foes. With so many of the same players returning next year and fresh recruiting classes coming to the desert, don't expect this to be the end of Rich Rod's success in the Pac-12.
Now Arizona gets a rematch with Oregon. It's unlikely the Wildcats will be able to get the jump on the Ducks for the third game in a row.
I mean, no one thought Arizona would get this far. What's one game more?