Nov. 6, 2009
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TUCSON, Ariz. – It has only been two weeks, but for the Arizona football team it seems like two months since it last played a football game.
Ranked for the first time since the 2000 season, the Wildcats finally get to test their mettle as a Top 25 team. Coaches and players have said all year long that this was the best overall team that UA has fielded in years and, to this point, that has proven true.
Sitting in second place in the Pac-10 and in control of their own destiny for the conference crown, the Wildcats are not taking anything for granted despite increased attention and praise. In fact, Arizona’s players are chomping at the bit to get back on the field and take on the Cougars.
“We haven’t proven anything yet,” sophomore quarterback Nick Foles said earlier this week. “There is a lot of football left to play. We have a lot we can improve on as a team, and it starts this week."
Head coach Mike Stoops stressed to his team daily the importance of preparation, focus and intensity for each and every opponent.
“You’re only guaranteed 12 Saturday’s a year to play football,” the sixth-year UA coach told his team after an evening practice this week. “We put in too much work all year long not to make the most of every opportunity.”
UA players are eager to play in front of another raucous Homecoming crowd like the ones in recent seasons that helped lead the Wildcats to victories over UCLA (twice) and California, while narrowly coming up short in an upset bid against USC a year ago.
“Our fans give us such great energy at home,” senior free safety Cam Nelson said. “Every game we have a chance to play in front of amazing fans and that can give us a major home field advantage. When we take that field Saturday, we hope to see the stadium full of people yelling and screaming and wearing their red shirts.”
Junior running back Nic Grigsby echoed the sentiments of his defensive teammate.
“There is nothing like playing at home,” Grigsby added. “The roar of the stadium during a big play fires us up and makes us want to make more big plays.”
There have been quite a few roars in Arizona Stadium in recent years, as the Wildcats have won 11 of their last 13 games in Tucson. It’s an impressive streak that dates back to the end of the 2007 season in which Arizona has outscored opponents 450-229 in Arizona Stadium, or by an average score of 34.6-17.6.
Success at home has come with a combination of a high-powered, balanced offensive attack and a stingy defense. Opponents have scored just 76 combined points in the second half of those games (6.9 ppg), providing opportunities to the UA offense to put points on the scoreboard.
Will the Wildcats light up the scoreboard tomorrow? There’s only two ways to find out: either be there in person or follow along from afar by watching on television.
Athletic department officials said Friday morning that good seats are still available and are anticipating a large walk-up crowd to the game following pre-game Homecoming festivities on campus. Fans who have yet to purchase tickets are encouraged to do so sooner rather than later to avoid the game day rush in the ticket lines close to kickoff. The McKale Ticket Office will be open until 5 p.m. on Friday, while the Arizona Stadium Box Office opens at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday.
The game will be televised live locally in Tucson on KWBA-TV, but will be available to a national audience on FOX College Sports Atlantic. The broadcast will be available to DIRECT TV subscribers on channel 623 for those who already have FOX College Sports included in their package. FCS Atlantic is also available in sports tier packages with cable providers, including on COX and Comcast.
The game will also be available to watch on FOX Sports Arizona in a replay beginning at 8:30 p.m. (MST).
Kickoff for UA’s 93rd Homecoming game is set for 1:30 p.m. at Arizona Stadium.