When you’re a 20.5 point underdog at home, it’s all but understood that it will take a little cooperation from your opponent in order to pull off an upset like the one Arizona pulled off against Oregon last Saturday. Even Rich Rodriguez knows that.
“Listen, if we execute and play with great effort and they help us out a little bit, we can win a lot of games and beat anybody,” he told his players following the Wildcats’ ugly loss to Washington State in Tucson.
“And that’s what happened,” he explained to the Doug and Wolf show on Tuesday as he recapped the win.
The Arizona players, and the seniors, in particular — who were taking the field at Arizona Stadium for the final time of their careers — Rodriguez explained, had legitimate hope for an upset over the No. 5 Ducks, buying into their coach’s pitch earlier in the week.
“I think they had a belief that they would win,” the second-year coach explained. “But I don’t think it was until it started developing that they truly started developing, and as the game went on they got more and more confidence. And then by the end of the game, they were really feeling it.”
In other words, initial buy-in was the prerequisite and good fortune practically did the rest, reinforcing the team’s belief.
“I think it’s a lesson to our guys — (something) that we had talked about the week before,” Rodriguez told the show.
“We’re not good enough to play poorly and win, but if we play well, and we execute, we’ve got a chance,” he said.
An upset win versus in-state rival Arizona State — currently 11.5-point favorites — on Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium will require the same recipe, the coach said. And a second straight such win, Rodriguez seemed to indicate, would partially depend on the Sun Devils’ mistakes.
“We’ve got to play well again Saturday and they’ve got to help us out a little bit, and we’ll see what happens.”