Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Cats Look To Snap Skid At Oregon State
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: October 03, 2011
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Oct. 3, 2011

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Arizona (1-4, 0-3 Pac-12) @ Oregon State (0-4, 0-2 Pac-12)

Oct. 8 Time: 12:30 p.m. (PDT)
Location: Corvallis, Ore. (Reser Stadium -- 45,674)
Television Broadcast: Fox College Sports Pacific
TV Commentators: Steve Physioc (play-by-play), Yogi Roth (analyst), Desmond Purnell (sideline)
UA Radio: Arizona Radio Network, 1290 AM Tucson  
UA Radio Commentators: Brian Jeffries (pxp), Lamont Lovett (color analyst), Dana Cooper (sideline analyst)
Satellite Radio: SIRIUS 193
Live Webcast: All-Access

Arizona -Oregon State Series History
All-Time Series:
Arizona leads, 21-12-1
First Meeting: Oregon State 31, Arizona 12 (Nov. 5, 1966 at Portland)
Last Meeting: Oregon State 29, Arizona 27 (Oct. 9, 2010 at Tucson, Ariz.)
Streak: Teams have split last two meetings
Mike Stoops'Record vs. Oregon State: 2-5
Mike Riley's Record vs. Arizona: 6-4

Some Game Themes ...
A pair of four-loss clubs looking for some magic to stick a digit in the left-hand column... Chops-licking on both sides as someone is going to be happy: Arizona works to snap its seven-game Pac-X losing streak against an OSU squad, winless this year, working to snap an overall six-game losing streak... A couple of teams that have surrendered some serious points and rate near the bottom of the FBS in scoring defense... Arizona takes a strange mix of top 25 offense and bottom 10 defense into the game... Arizona's secondary, which watched a fellow (R. Woods) catch 14 for 255 against it last week, faces a guy (Markus Wheaton) who's among national leaders with eight catches a game... Discipline could be a byword for the winner this week. Only six teams in the FBS have more penalties per game (8.6) than Arizona, and OSU had a flag day at ASU last Saturday with 13 penalties for 139 yards... The grind in two views: Arizona wraps up an early slate of six games in six weeks, then gets a breather before its next game Oct. 20, while OSU continues a bye-less streak of 10 weeks after its respite on Sept. 17...

The Coaches
Arizona - Mike Stoops (Iowa '86), eighth year at Arizona (41-49) and overall as a head coach. His record in league games is 27-37. Stoops had Arizona in the national rankings for 11 weeks in 2010 and has taken three consecutive teams to bowl games, matching the school's best string.He has coached national award winners and a combined 33 All-Pac-10 players at Arizona. His Arizona teams have beaten ranked teams each of his seven seasons in Tucson. Arizona's football attendance has flourished in his tenure averaging 53,155 per game, among the Pac-12's best of-capacity (92%) figures. His recruiting and development programs have put talented players on the field, and solid citizens in the classrooms and community. Arizona's football APR mark has improved each of the past six years. He has developed 16 Arizona players selected in the NFL Draft. He was defensive coordinator at Kansas State and Oklahoma from 1996-2003 before his UA appointment and has been on the defensive side since his coaching start in 1986. Stoops is 2-5 vs. Oregon State with both victories coming in Corvallis, in 2005 and 2009. Oregon State - Mike Riley (Alabama '75), 11th year at Oregon State (69-58) and overall as a head coach. He started coaching in 1975 as a G.A. at Cal, has been a defensive coordinator, offensive coordinator and an NFL/CFL/WLAF head coach. His record against Arizona is 6-4.

Last Week
Arizona spotted USC 17 points in the early going and couldn't overcome the deficit in a 1,000-yard track meet at the Coliseum, dropping a 48-41 decision for its fourth consecutive loss. Trojan QB Matt Barkley threw for 468 yards and four scores while UA's Nick Foles threw for 425 yards and four scores. One difference -- two picks off Foles in the first quarter that led to USC scoring drives. Nearly anything led to a USC scoring drive as the Trojans scored on their first six possessions before Barkley was picked by Shaq Richardson in the third stanza. That led to an Arizona score as well -- one of six consecutive scoring possessions for the Cats. Once the Cats started scoring they pulled to within a touchdown, 41-34, but couldn't get a stop and USC mounted a quick and definitive drive, going 79 yards in five plays for its final points with nine minutes left. Arizona answered but couldn't pull off an onside kick attempt inside the final minute. Foles (41-for-53, 77%) and Barkley (32-39, 82%) were sharp throughout, but USC's 12.0 yards per attempt -- fueled by the second play the Trojans ran, an 82-yard swing pass to Robert Woods for a score -- were devastating. Woods ended up with 14 receptions for 255 yards and two scores, joined by Marqise Lee with eight grabs for 144 yards and a score. Foles spread his goods around, complete three or more passes to nine different receivers and throws to a dozen overall. UA's running game improved, with Keola Antolin netting 87 markers on 15 tries and Ka'Deem Carey scoring twice on 12 tough runs. True freshman Carey added a first receiving score to the inaugural running touchdowns in his young career. The Wildcats posted a school-record 37 first downs, but USC was gaining yards in chunks (9.1 per play) and couldn't fit more than 26 first downs in its 582 yards of offense. The Cats gained 554. There were two punts in the game, one in each half by UA's Kyle Dugandzic. USC did not punt. Ouch.

Cats Get Red
Arizona's 5-for-5 touchdown performance in the red zone at USC was its first perfect outing of the year. UA had four TDs in five RZ trips in the opener against NAU. The goods in the Coliseum helped boost the season effectiveness to 16 scores in 20 trips (80%), with touchdowns on 14 of those (70%). Unfortunately, opponents have clicked at a 92% rate (24-for-26), with TDs on 19 of them (73%). Against what might be considered a competent front line, Arizona ran the ball eight times in the red zone at USC, gaining 25 yards including rushing TDs of 1 and 16 yards by Ka'Deem Carey.

Foles' Five In Perspective
Senior quarterback Nick Foles' season totals already rank among the best in UA history, and the Wildcats have yet to reach the mid-way point of the season. Through five games, Foles has completed 170-of-236 (72-percent) pass attempts for 1,877 yards, 14 touchdowns and just two interceptions. The 170 completions are currently the 8th-most in UA single season history and are more than the total number of pass attempts by Keith Smith in the 1998 season. The significance of Smith's mark is the fact he is the school record holder for highest pass completion percentage in a season (68.5). Foles' yardage and touchdown totals rank 13th and tied for 12th, respectively, in the UA single season charts. Amazingly, Foles has completed more passes (170) than UA's annual passing leader in 45 of the past 53 years dating back to 1958, which is when the chart begins in the UA media guide. The completion tally is also more than 20 of those annual leaders had for attempts in their respective seasons.

First and Foremost
Arizona set some four first-down records last Saturday at USC. The Cats garnered a historical high of 37 total chain movers, eclipsing the previous best of 34 against New Mexico in 1968 and 1969. Arizona and USC (26) combined for a UA game-record 63 total, besting the mark of 58 set in a game against the Lobos a year earlier (Arizona-34, UNM-24). Arizona also had 25 passing first downs against USC, topping the previous UA high of 20 set against New Mexico in 2007, at Toledo and against USC in 2010. The Cats and Trojans combined for a total of 44 passing first downs last week, beating the previous high of 36 set against Colorado State in 1983 (UA-19, SCU-17).

Punts? What?
Arizona (2) and USC (0) set a UA mark for fewest punts in a game. It was the first game at UA under Mike Stoops with the opponent not giving it a boot. The previous record for fewest punts in a game was three, a game in 1962 in which UA punted twice and BYU punted once.

Crowded at the Top
Arizona's top five receivers are all within two catches of each other. Dan Buckner leader with 25, Juron Criner and David Roberts have 24, David Douglas and Gino Crump have 23 apiece. Three others are in double digits with Austin Hill and Richard Morrison contributing 14 each and Keola Antolin with 13. Criner led the Pac-10 with 82 receptions a year ago, but it's clear that Arizona quarterback Nick Foles has many more choices to make in 2011. All those guys except Douglas have at least one TD catch, with Criner's 3 the most. Foles' 14 TD throws in five games put him in decent shape to best the school record of 28 by Willie Tuitama in 2007.

Say It Ain't So
Arizona has surrendered 503 yards of total offense per game this year, with some star-spangled foes leading the way -- Brandon Weeden, Andrew Luck, LaMichael James and Matt Barkley. That extrapolates to 6,000 yards in a 12-game season, a bit unheard of in Arizona football history. The Cats gave up a record 5,520 yards in 2003 and have only two other 4,500+ years in their 33-year history in the Pac-10. The game has changed, no doubt. Some good news: Arizona's final seven opponents combine for an average of 377 yards per game, led by ASU's current 425 ypg mark. That's a bit different than the first five opponents and makes it possible for the Cats to avoid the ignominy of giving up more yards than any team in school history.

Staring at the Stats...
Arizona has four punt returns in five games, for 6.5 yards per pop (Richard Morrison). Opponents have punted 15 times, a couple of kicks under the per-game average for the last five years of 5.6 punts per game. Arizona, too, has been averaging 4.7 ppg in the period and is below that as well with Kyle Dugandzic at 20 punts in five games... UA has had more time of possession in the last two games, by nine (Oregon) and eight (USC) minutes, respectively, but the lads from the other teams also had 11 touchdown drives consuming 2:30 or less in those contests. The Trojans had four drives under 1:36... Turnovers continue to be a thing of dreams in Arizona games. The Cats have lost a fumble and thrown two interceptions, while opponents have suffered three interceptions. It keeps UA near the top of the country in turnovers lost, but without forcing any it keeps the club in the middle of the pack (62nd) in turnover margin... The Cats have not had a sack in three games, albeit against the seven-man Stanford front, Oregon's fleet-footed option and the boys from SC. Those teams attempted a total of 90 passes. Still, a season total of three sacks is not exactly pass pressure... Arizona has converted on fourth down in four games this year, with a solid 8-for-14 (57%) effectiveness. UA was 5-for-7 against Oregon on 4th down...

Say, What?
Usually you might consider a team running 92 plays and gaining 480 yards, or running 86 plays and gaining 554 yards would be the victor in games. That's Arizona's output against Oregon and USC. Meantime, the Ducks (67) and Trojans (64) ran more than 20 fewer plays but garnered -- through BIG plays -- more yards and points. That's why Arizona's job at USC -- five touchdowns in five red-zone forays -- could mean much to the club down the road.

Special K's
Arizona's rushing attack features senior Keola Antolin (who played as a true freshman in 2008) and true freshman Ka'Deem Carey. A glance at the stat sheet shows Arizona ranks No. 116 in the nation in rushing offense with 75.6 yards per game. But that stat is misleading for two reasons. First, UA's pass-heavy offense not only tilts the yardage to the passing game, but over 100 rushing yards have been subtracted due to sacks and another 26 were lost on a bad field goal snap in the opening game. At the same time, the Cats' rushing attack has made big strides in recent weeks. Antolin and Carey have combined for 311 yards over the last three games, rushing at a 4.6 yards per carry clip. That's much improved over the 2.9ypc you will see on the stat sheet for UA's season average. Against USC, Carey collected his first two career rushing touchdowns and added another on a swing pass out of the backfield. Combined, the two backs have 19 receptions for 157 yards (8.3 per reception).

Playing From Behind
Not on the scoreboard, but rather behind the chains. It's been a double-edged sword for the Wildcats, who have all too often been behind the chains offensively but unable to put opponents in similar predicaments. The UA-USC game was a perfect example, notably in the first quarter. Arizona was shut out on each of its first three drives of the game, falling behind 17-0, despite accumulating 121 yards in the first quarter. The problem was penalties and negative yardage plays put the Wildcats behind the chains, effectively killing drives. UA's initial drive covered 41 yards on 10 plays, but false start penalty put the Wildcats in a 3rd-and-15 position, before an incompletion and a punt. The UA offense again moved into USC territory on the next drive, but another false start penalty set the Wildcats back to 2nd-and-13, which was followed by an incompletion and an interception. On the third possession, the Cats again crossed midfield before a second down holding penalty forced another 2nd-and-13. The Wildcats gained six yards on the next play, but, instead of a 3rd-and-2 play, they faced a 3rd-and-7 and again were intercepted. In all, the Wildcats snapped the ball 10 times in the game when facing a second or third down with more than 10 yards to gain. Meanwhile, the Trojans did so on just two occasions - both prior to the end of the half. A sideline interference penalty set USC back to a 1st-and-goal from the 12-yard line before the end of the first half. The Trojans settled for two simple plays before booting and end-of-half field goal. The other occasion was after taking a knee to run out the game clock in the final seconds of the fourth quarter.

What Does It Mean?
Playing from behind the chains isn't a situation the Wildcats offense - or many offenses - thrive in. The key is to be good enough (and disciplined enough) on first and second down to create third-and-manageable situations. For Arizona, 3rd-and-5 or less is probably an encouraging spot given the weapons in the passing game and Nick Foles' decision-making and ability to distribute the ball. Against the Trojans, the Wildcats converted 6-of-12 third downs. Of those, exactly half were more than five yards to gain. Of those third-and-longs, UA converted just one. However, the Wildcats successfully converted 5-of-6 third downs when having five or fewer yards to gain. Meanwhile, the Trojans, who converted 7-of-10 third downs in the game, were 5-of-7 in the first half while humping out to a 27-12 advantage. In the first half, USC faced just one third down of more than five yards to gain. On the season, the Wildcats are 9-of-39 (23.1 percent) in 3rd-and-6 or longer situations and 17-for-27 in 3rd-and-5 or shorter situations (63.0 percent).

True freshman running back Ka'Deem Carey continues to make strides. He's carried the ball 45 times for 185 yards and a pair of scores (his first, at USC), while catching six passes for 58 yards and a score (his first, at USC). He leads the club in per-game all-purpose yardage (122.4 yards per contest) thanks to his 369 yards in kick returns (21.7). He'll improve on the latter and break one, because his strength is making people miss and breaking tackles. He's a good complement to Keola Antolin, the Cats' fifth-year senior RB, who's also getting back into some groove after Arizona's slow start in the running game. Antolin rushed for a game-high 87 yards at USC, averaging 5.8 yards per tote, while Carey got some carries in tougher going for 34 yards on 12 attempts. Arizona coaches have emphasized the running game a bit more of late, with 68 rushes in the last two games (to 72 by Ore/USC) even while tossing the ball 110 times (to 59 by Ore/USC).

Start Your Engines
It's clear Arizona can move the ball, maintain some clock control and get some points. Getting a faster start in games will be a key. The Cats have trailed 21-0, 10-0, 14-0 and 17-0 in the four losses, in order. That's not the best position to put a young offensive line in, or a defense with a bunch of new faces. Mike Stoops took the ball after winning the coin toss at USC, one of the few times he's done that in 90 games at Arizona, to give something a try to get the ball rolling. Usually he likes to play some defense at the onset and get the ball to begin the second half.

Start Your Engines II
The Wildcats have been outscored in the first half 109-45. It's started very early in each game. In the last four games here are the first two offensive possessions for the Cats:

at USC - 10 plays/41 yards-punt; 9 plays/22 yards-interception
Oregon - 4 plays/14 yards-punt; 3 plays/2 yards-punt
Stanford - 3 plays/0 yards-punt; 3 plays/8 yards-punt
at Oklahoma State - 9 plays/26 yards-punt; 3 plays/0 yards-punt

If you're counting, that's 44 plays/113 yards (2.5 yards per play), seven punts and a turnover in the first 10 minutes of games.

Start Your Engines III
It's only fair to look at the other guys' offensive starts to games, so as to point to UA's defense at the get-go. Here are the first two possession for opponents:

USC - 2 plays/91 yards-TD; 7 plays/41 yards-FG
Oregon - 8 plays/80 yards-TD; 10 plays/72 yards-TD
Stanford - 6 plays/33 yards-punt; 9 plays/57 yards-FG
Okla State - 9 plays/88 yards-TD, 12 plays/80 yards-TD

In case you're counting, that's 542 yards, five TDs, two FGs and a punt to get things going.

Nightmare on Wheels
The Cats get their last fill of OSU's James Rodgers this week. Rodgers injured a knee against UA a year ago in the fifth game and was subsequently granted a fifth year of eligibility. In that game he scored the first touchdown on a 33-yard catch in OSU's 29-27 victory, and had seven receptions for 102 yards before the injury. In 2009 he caught eight balls for 119 yards in UA's 37-32 victory in Corvallis. In 2008, Rodgers rushed 10 times for 102 yards and a score in the Beavers' 19-17 victory over UA in Tucson, the 'fly sweep' nightmare game for the Cats. In 2007, he was just getting started on the 6,000-yard all-purpose career and had two touches for 48 yards. Of course, somewhere in there the Beavers had his brother, Jacquizz, doing some stuff, too.

Spread The Wealth
It's exactly what Nick Foles did last week at USC when he completed a pass to 12 different receivers, and at least three to nine separate targets. It was a career-high day for Foles with his 41 completions, four of which went for touchdowns. Running back Ka'Deem Carey and H-Back/Fullback Taimi Tutogi each caught their first career touchdown passes in the second quarter. The duo joined seven other Wildcats with receiving touchdowns on the year, increasing the total to nine players with a touchdown grab this season.

True Freshmen Starters
Arizona's defense has featured at least on true freshman in the starting lineup in each game this season. Rob Hankins started at linebacker in UA's first three games, while Sani Fuimaono started at defensive tackle in the Stanford and Oregon games. Last week at USC, Hank Hobson earned his first start at linebacker and collected three tackles. True freshman starters are somewhat rare but not unheard of under Mike Stoops at Arizona. In 2004, WR B.J. Dennard started two games, while future Jim Thorpe Award winner Antoine Cason started all 11 contests. In 2005, defensive end Mike Shelton started one game, while future school passing leader Willie Tuitama earned four starts, as did future All-Pac-10 receptions leader Mike Thomas. Future Houston Texans DT Earl Mitchell started seven games in 2006 (although at fullback on offense) and Terrell Turner started in one game. In 2007, future New England Patriot Rob Gronkowski started nine games at tight end for the Wildcats, while running back Nic Grigsby started eight games en route to a nearly 3,000-yard career. The Cats did not start a true freshman in 2009, and cornerback Shaquille Richardson (three games) was the only player to do so in 2010.

Chunk Plays
One of the goals for Arizona's defensive improvement will be to limit long plays by opponents. Through five weeks, the Wildcats have yielded 35 total offensive plays (13 rushing, 22 passing) of 20 or more yards. That's an astonishing seven plays per game of 20 yards or more, for an average of at least 140 yards. A year ago, during a 4-0 start to the season, UA's defense surrendered just seven total 20-plus yard plays to opposing offenses to open the season. Sure, the competition has been much stiffer to start the 2011 campaign, but needless to say the Cats needs to find a solution to slowing down opposing teams. Forcing teams to matriculate the ball down the field without the chunk plays will be a good place to start.

Chunk Plays Part II
Nick Foles and the passing attack have totaled 22 plays of 20 or more yards through the air in the first five games of the season. That's well on the way to eclipsing the total of 46 long pass plays a year ago. But the Wildcats would also like to find some balance with the run. So far only two rushing plays have gained 20 or more yards - both totes by Keola Antolin. In 2010, UA had 14 rushing plays of 20 or more yards, which leaves the Cats with some work to do if they would like to match that total.

From Start To Finish
Under Mike Stoops, Arizona has proved to be a pretty dominant team when it starts fast. Consider that the Wildcats are 27-6 (8.18) since the start of the 2004 season when holding a lead after the first quarter. That mark is even more impressive in recent seasons, as UA has won 18 of its last 19 contests since the start of 2008 when leading after the opening period (lone defeat came after a 14-7 lead at Oregon in 2010). At home, the Wildcats are 18-3 in such games, including a streak of 13 straight victories dating back to 2007. Away from home, the Cats hold a solid 9-3 (.750) mark with leads after the first quarter. However, trailing or being tied with an opponent is an ominous omen for Arizona as the club is just 14-43 (.246) when tied or trailing after the first quarter since the start of 2004. The Cats are 8-20 (.286) at home and 6-23 (.207) away from home in such games.

100-Yard Targets
If the Wildcats wanted to, they could spread out SIX receivers who have a 100-yard game on their résumé. Juron Criner is the headliner of the group and has seven 100-yard receiving games in his career. Against Oregon, senior David Douglas tallied 120 yards on seven grabs for his first career 100-yard game. Earlier this year against Oklahoma State, redshirt freshman and transfer Dan Buckner (who had to sit out the 2010 season) racked up 279 combined yards as each collected their first 100-yard receiving day for the Wildcats. They joined David Roberts (138 yards at Washington in 2009) and Terrence Miller (116 yards against USC in 2010) as targets that have 100-yard games in their careers.

Tracking Some Cats
Nick Foles' and Juron Criner's career numbers are well-documented, but here are some notable Cats closing in on other top career marks ... Keola Antolin has 23 rushing touchdowns and three receiving scores in his career for a career tally of 156 points scored. That is nearing a spot in the UA career charts. He is one touchdown shy of matching Dennis Northcutt's (1996-99) 162 points for No. 13 all-time ... Senior place kicker Alex Zendejas has collected 186 points in his career, which is tied for ninth-most in school history ... Senior wide receiver David Roberts' three catches at USC pushed him past Derek Hill (1985-88) and Rodney Williams (1995-97) and into the No. 9 spot on UA's all-time receptions list with 113 catches ... Antolin became the 13th player in school history to rush for 2,000 yards in his career when he surpassed the benchmark against Oregon. He now has 2,097 career rushing yards, good enough for No. 10 in program history. He is now 292 yards behind Eddie Wolgast (1945-50) ... David Douglas'120 yards against Oregon pushed him over the 1,000-yard barrier for his career. With 109 receptions, Douglas is tied with Terry Vaughn (1990-93) for 12th-most in school history. Three more grabs will tie him with Derek Hill (1985-88) and Rodney Williams (1995-97) for 10th-most at Arizona.

Career Tracker
Here's a quick look at where some notable Wildcats rank nationally among active career leaders in respective statistical categories.

- Keola Antolin's 430 career carries are 16th-most for active players
- Juron Criner's 158 career receptions are 17th-most for active players.
- Juron Criner's 2,227 career receiving yards are 17th-most for active players.
- Juron Criner's 24 career receiving touchdowns are 6th-most for active players
- Nick Foles' 716 career pass completions are 7th-most for active players
- Nick Foles' 7,554 passing yards are 9th-most for active players
- Nick Foles' 53 passing touchdowns are tied for 13th-most for active players
- Nick Foles' 66.9% career completion percentage is 5th-best for active players
- Nick Foles' 269.8 career passing yards per game is 8th-best for active players
- Nick Foles' 25.6 career completions per game is 5th-best for active players
- Nick Foles' 1,071 career pass attempts is 8th-most for active players
- Nick Foles 38.2 pass attempts per game is 4th-most for active players
- Nick Foles' 7,276 total offense yards are 13th-most for active players
- Trevin Wade's 11 career interceptions are tied for fourth nationally for active players.

Cats Report To Duty
For the fourth straight year, Arizona head coach Mike Stoops took his team to Fort Huachuca, a U.S. Army post 75 miles southeast of Tucson, for four days of preseason training camp in August. Fort Huachuca was founded in 1977 and is now home to units such as the Army Intelligence Center, Army Signal Command, Information Systems Command and other test facilities associated with communications and electronic proving systems. For Arizona football, the mission is threefold, but simple: learn from the best team (U.S. Army) in the world, enjoy a cooler climate for football training, and bond as a team in preparation for the long grind of a college football season. It affords quality football practice fields for the team's physical work and barracks for housing, but moreover offers exceptional leadership-skills training opportunities and daily interaction with U.S. Army soldiers on post. The formula has worked the last three years, each of which has ended with a bowl appearance. The Wildcats are seeking for a school-record fourth bowl trip this year.

Building For The Future
In the summer of 2011, Arizona Athletics completed work on a new video board for the south end zone at Arizona Stadium and has begun plans for the North End Zone Complex. The new video board measures 113' wide by 47' high -- 6.5 times larger than the existing board and will be one of the largest in all of college sports. The North End Zone Complex will include 5,000 upgraded end-zone seats, and among them 420 premium loge-level seats. Arizona football staff offices will move from McKale Center to a four-level, 185,000-square-foot operations center that includes football-specific strength and conditioning facilities, a sports-medicine suite for student-athlete care and treatment, a team dining hall, coaches' offices, team locker rooms, small group and auditorium meeting spaces, and equipment and laundry rooms.

Up Next
Arizona reaches its first and only open date of the season on Saturday, Oct. 15, fittingly at the mid-point of the season. The Wildcats will return to action on Thursday, Oct. 20, against UCLA at Arizona Stadium. The game is set for a 6 p.m. kickoff on ESPN.

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