No one, no one, uttered the words “Arizona Wildcats” and “College Football Playoff” in the same sentence when the season began. But with wins over Oregon, Utah, Arizona State and seven others, the 10-2 Wildcats have a chance to crash the College Football Playoff party.
Led on offense by freshman quarterback Anu Solomon and freshman running back Nick Wilson, Arizona ranks 21st in the nation in total offense (5,775 yards), 16th in passing offense (3,497 yards) and 17th in total points (440).
While Arizona’s defense does not rank quite as well as its offense, they have been able to ruffle opposing offense’s feathers. The unit ranks 11th in the country in sacks (38) and have forced 24 turnovers.
The No. 7 ranked Wildcats need a win on Friday and some help to turn that playoff dream into a reality. Here’s how Arizona can crack the top four and compete for the national championship:
First are foremost, the Wildcats must win the Pac-12 Championship Friday night at Levi’s Stadium by defeating the Oregon Ducks for the second time this season. The No. 2 ranked Ducks come in at 11-1, their only loss coming at home to these same Wildcats.
Should Arizona get by Oregon, the collective eyes of Wildcats nation will be locked on their TV sets the following day. Of the six teams above them in the standings, five play on Saturday — Alabama, Florida State, TCU, Baylor and Ohio State.
A loss by Alabama in the SEC Championship game may not matter for Arizona’s sake, but losses by the other four teams certainly will.
The Wildcats need at least two of those other four teams to lose to have a shot at the top four. Should any of Florida State, Ohio State or Baylor lose, their opponents would join Arizona in the conversation for a playoff appearance. Idle Mississippi State and Michigan State will likely join the fray as well.
The Wildcats are still fighting an uphill battle to make the first-ever College Football Playoff, but all they need is a win on Friday and a couple of breaks.
Games To Watch
No. 7 Arizona vs. No. 2 Oregon – Friday 7 p.m.
Iowa State at. No. 3 TCU – Saturday 10 a.m.
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 16 Missouri – Saturday 2 p.m.
No. 9 Kansas State at. No. 6 Baylor – Saturday 5:45 p.m.
No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 11 Georgia Tech – Saturday 6 p.m.
No. 13 Wisconsin vs. No. 5 Ohio State – Saturday 6:17 p.m.