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Cats Return to the Rankings
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 10/25/2009
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Oct. 25, 2009

The Arizona (5-2) football team returned to the national rankings for the first time in nine years with its No. 23 slot in the Associated Press poll today.

UA, fresh off its 27-13 victory over UCLA Saturday evening to post a 3-1 Pac-10 record for a second-place tie with USC, also is ranked in the USA Today coaches poll at No. 24.

"It's exciting...yeah, it's nice to get some recognition," said head coach Mike Stoops. "It's a reflection of how we've played in our first seven games. But it also means very little. There are a lot of tough football games left.

"We have plenty of work to do and being ranked is not our ultimate goal," he said. "We're happy but there are higher objectives out there and we're going to get back to focusing on the next game."

The ranking is the first for Stoops as a head coach. He took over the Arizona program in 2004 following a 2-10 season by predecessor John Mackovic and interim coach Mike Hankwitz in 2003.

UA's last ranking by AP voters was in the Oct. 22, 2000, poll, but the then No. 24 Wildcats under coach Dick Tomey dropped from out of the polls after a 27-24 loss to UCLA in Tucson on Oct. 28. The Cats were ranked for three polling periods during that season, Tomey's final year in Tucson. UA was rated 22nd on Oct. 8, 21st on Oct. 15 and the No. 22 slot.

The return to the rankings halts a string of 104 games played without a spot in the polls for Arizona, a program that saw some rough times since Tomey's 12-1 club in 1998 finished No. 4 in the final AP ratings after its victory over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.

Stoops' rebuilding job includes the 8-5 team in 2008 that capped its season with a victory over BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl, finishing with votes in the polls. The Cats started this year 2-0 and poised for a potential spot, but fell at Iowa, 27-17, and later at Washington, 36-33, on a last-minute score. The 8-0 Hawkeyes are No. 7 in this week's poll.

Stoops' team is ranked right behind the Oklahoma squad coached by his brother, Bob. The No. 22 Sooners were Mike's previous employer, where he served as defensive coordinator before assuming the reins in Tucson.

UA was rated No. 22 in last week's initial BCS rankings, and slid up to No. 20 this week.

Arizona's victory over UCLA came despite five turnovers, a development Stoops said "won't work against the teams remaining on our schedule. "You do that against some of these teams coming up, and you'll be steamrolled."

The Wildcats get a week off Oct. 31 before returning to action Nov. 7 with a Homecoming tilt against Washington State (1-6, 0-5) in Tucson. That opens a five-week string that will feature a road game at California (5-2, 2-2), a final home contest against Oregon (6-1, 4-0), and road games at ASU (4-3, 2-2) and USC (6-1, 3-1).

Link to both AP and USA Today polls of 10-25-09

The Oct. 25 AP Poll:

 

1

Florida (30)

7-0

1463

2

Alabama (23)

8-0

1448

3

Texas (7)

7-0

1407

4

USC

6-1

1217

5

Cincinnati

7-0

1211

6

Boise State

7-0

1177

7

Iowa

8-0

1148

8

TCU

7-0

1132

9

LSU

6-1

1040

10

Oregon

6-1

933

11

Georgia Tech

7-1

923

12

Penn State

7-1

843

13

Oklahoma State

6-1

768

14

Virginia Tech

5-2

734

15

Houston

6-1

601

16

Pittsburgh

7-1

551

17

Ohio State

6-2

508

18

Miami (FL)

5-2

501

19

Utah

6-1

400

20

West Virginia

6-1

323

21

South Carolina

6-2

270

22

Oklahoma

4-3

210

23

Arizona

5-2

164

24

Mississippi

5-2

142

25

Notre Dame

5-2

135

 

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