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#49: Arizona Wildcats Looking to Avoid Late Fade

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Our countdown moves on to Tuscon, where Arizona is coming off a disappointing finish to its 2010 season. Can it rebound from a late-season tumble and navigate the possible loss of star wide out Juron Criner?

2010 Record: 7-6

2010 Skinny: The Wildcats started the season 7-1 and were staring at a possible Rose Bowl berth. And that’s when the bottom fell out. Arizona lost its final five games of the season, including a 36-10 setback to Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl. During that period, the Wildcats lost, 42-17, to Stanford and, 48-29, to Oregon. That’s certainly understandable against two top-notch teams. But the most painful loss of the campaign came against intra-state rival Arizona State, which pulled out a miraculous one-point victory against Arizona by blocking two extra points. It will take a while for the ‘Cats to get over that one.

Returning Starters: 10

Coach: Mike Stoops (eighth season, 40-45)

Key Players: QB Nick Foles, WR Juron Criner, DT Justin Washington

2011 Schedule:

Sept. 3 vs. Northern Arizona
Sept. 8 @ Oklahoma State
Sept. 17 vs. Stanford
Sept. 24 vs. Oregon
Oct. 1 @ USC
Oct. 8 @ Oregon State
Oct. 20 vs. UCLA
Oct. 29 @ Washington
Nov. 5 vs. Utah
Nov. 12 @ Colorado
Nov. 19 @ Arizona State
Nov. 26 vs. UL Lafayette

Anthony’s Take: Put it this way: Arizona is good enough to get back to another bowl, but it’s going to take a lot for it to make the first-ever Pac-12 title game. For starters, 2010 All-Pac 10 receiver Criner may be lost for the season for undisclosed reasons. We won’t speculate, but all reports on the matter seem ominous. The Wildcats also lose all five starters on the offensive line to graduation. Then, the injuries came. Free safety Adam Hall, linebacker Jake Fischer and defensive tackle Willie Mobley all suffered serious knee ailments since the end of last season. On the bright side, Foles returns, and there’s no doubt he’s one of the country’s best QBs. In 2011, we see the tables turned for Arizona - a slow start thanks to a tough early schedule, but a run through October and November should provide at least seven wins again.

Jim’s Take: Murphy’s Law has been in effect for Arizona this offseason, as everything that could go wrong has gone wrong for the Wildcats. The offense will move the ball with Foles at the helm but losing Criner would be a massive blow to the team, although fellow WR and Texas transfer Dan Buckner could be a star. The defense was exposed in the second half of the season and Stoops better have figured out a way to fix it because September contests against Oklahoma State, Stanford and Oregon will be brutal. A repeat of seven wins looks optimistic at this point. 

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College Football’s FBS 120 Countdown

#120: New Mexico

#119: Memphis

#118: San Jose State

#117: Akron

#116: New Mexico State

#115: Buffalo

#114: UNLV

#113: Western Kentucky

#112: North Texas

#111: Louisiana-Lafayette

#110: Eastern Michigan

#109: Colorado State

#108: Tulane

#107: Central Michigan

#106: Kent State

#105: Rice

#104: Florida Atlantic

#103: Ball State

#102: UAB

#101: UTEP

#100: Bowling Green

#99: Utah State

#98: Louisiana-Monroe

#97: Wyoming

#96: Marshall

#95: Indiana

#94: Kansas

#93: Louisiana Tech

#92: Vanderbilt

#91: Minnesota

#90: Washington State

#89: Wake Forest

#88: Duke

#87: Virginia

#86: Purdue

#85: Iowa State

#84: Arkansas State

#83: Idaho

#82: Middle Tennessee

#81: Temple

#80: Rutgers

#79: Ohio

#78: Troy

#77: FIU

#76: Western Michigan

#75: Northern Illinois

#74: Toledo

#73: Fresno State

#72: Nevada

#71: Colorado

#70: Miami (OH)

#69: California

#68: East Carolina

#67: Kentucky

#66: Georgia Tech

#65 Connecticut

#64: Mississippi

#63: Army

#62: UCLA

#61: Oregon State

#60: Cincinnati

#59 Louisville

#58: Kansas State

#57: Hawaii

#56: Southern Miss

#55: Navy

#54: Tulsa

#53: SMU

#52: USF

#51: Boston College

#50: Texas Tech

 
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