Heading into 2015, the Arizona Wildcats had high expectations following a 2014 season that culminated in a Pac-12 South championship.
But those expectations were difficult to attain, thanks in large part to the schedule makers, who scheduled the Wildcats to play 12 games in 12 weeks.
As a result, Arizona limped into Tempe on Nov. 21 injured and tired, then headed back to Tucson with a 52-37 Territorial Cup loss to Arizona State and a 6-6 record.
It’s funny what a little rest can do for a football team.
With the help of having three weeks off, the healed up and well-rested Wildcats finally met those expectations Saturday by holding on for a 45-37 win over the New Mexico Lobos in the New Mexico Bowl.
One of those meeting expectations Saturday was Scooby Wright, who came up big with 15 tackles, including a key sack as the Lobos were facing a fourth down situation late in the fourth quarter.
Wright made his presence felt again on what ended up being his final play as a Wildcat when he applied pressure to New Mexico quarterback Austin Apodaca, causing him to force the pass, which found the hands of Wildcat defensive back Cam Denson to secure the win.
Wright entered the season with high expectations after finishing with 100 tackles and 15 sacks a year ago, earning him the Nagurski and Bednarik awards as the nation’s top defensive player while leading the Wildcats to a 10-4 record and a trip to the Fiesta Bowl.
The Wildcats’ injures this season weren’t limited to just Wright as quarterback Anu Solomon missed starts against Stanford and Arizona State after suffering concussions against UCLA and Utah.
But on Saturday Solomon was back and productive by throwing for 329 yards with two touchdowns — completing 13 of 24 attempts as the Wildcats finish the season 7-6.
However, the good news for Arizona next year is they will get a bye week on Oct. 22, seven games instead of 12 games into the season.