The Arizona Wildcats were not supposed to lose to the Washington State Cougars.
A heavy favorite playing at home against a team that had lost its previous three games by an average of nearly 29 points per contest, the Wildcats were supposed to roll to their seventh win before hosting Pac-12 power Oregon the following week.
But as happens so often in sports, the game didn’t go as planned, as the Wildcats were upset by a score of 24-17.
Arizona fell to 6-4 (3-4) on the season, while the Cougars improved to 5-5 (3-4).
A guest of Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf Tuesday, Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said this was not a case of his team overlooking their opponent.
“I don’t think so just because with the makeup of our team all year and kind of knowing where we’re at, it’s not like we’re a dominant team,” he said. “And I’ve said this many times, we’re not going to overwhelm anybody anyway.”
The second-year coach said this was just a case of his team playing poorly and paying the price for it.
“We had a lot of unforced errors,” he said. “We just had some things that hadn’t happened all year. We dropped a ball a couple times, we had a bad snap on a punt, missed a couple easy field goals.
“Just unforced errors that we’re not good enough to overcome right now.”
Washington State scored a pair of touchdowns in the second half, each of which followed an Arizona miscue. The first, in the third quarter, was after the bad snap on the punt that Rodriguez referenced, which gave the Cougars the ball deep in Arizona territory. The second, which proved to be the game-winner in the fourth, was on a drive that followed Jake Smith missing a 34-yard field goal.
In all, the Wildcats lost two fumbles, missed two field goals and were penalized four times for 30 yards. They also had their receivers drop a couple catchable passes, including one that would have gone for a touchdown just before halftime.
It just wasn’t a good performance for a team that needed to win a home game against a struggling team in order to improve its bowl positioning.
“They’re good enough to beat us when we didn’t play well, and we didn’t play well,” Rodriguez admitted. “And you’ve got to give them credit for that.”