|Wildcats brace for Cal|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 17 October 2008 08:34|
The Arizona Wildcats have done that twice this year. And if they can keep up that pace, they'll be in fine shape in the next two weeks.
After losing to Stanford last Saturday, Arizona plays host to No. 25 California on Saturday and sixth-ranked Southern California on Oct. 25. For reasons that elude the Wildcats, they seem to play to the level of their opponents.
``I don't know why it is we play harder against the top-ranked opponents,'' free safety Nate Ness said. ``But when we play against New Mexico or Stanford, we have more talent than them, but we just give up. I really don't know what it is.
``Honestly, I guess those teams just want it a little bit more than us, and they come in there and they've got the desire,'' Ness said. ``We just go in there playing not to lose. But we need to start playing to win.''
tual ninth-place finisher. They have also knocked off a Top 10 team in each of the past three seasons.
The Wildcats (4-2, 2-1 Pac-10) are hoping to extend the trend against ranked teams in the next two weekends, beginning with Saturday night's game against the Golden Bears (4-1, 2-0 Pac-10). A victory would lift the Wildcats back into contention in the conference race.
Cal, meanwhile, is looking to keep stacking wins as it heads toward a Nov. 8 visit to USC - a game that could decide a Rose Bowl berth. After Arizona, the Bears return to Strawberry Canyon to face UCLA and Oregon.
But the Golden Bears can't look past Arizona, because they remember the last time they brought a ranking to the desert. It was Nov. 11, 2006, and the Wildcats upset eighth-ranked Cal 24-20.
``It has been difficult for us to play at Arizona in the past,'' Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. ``They beat us the last time we were there, so we have to learn from that and move forward.''
The Wildcats seem to be a different team in the friendly confines of Arizona Stadium, where they have won five straight, their longest streak since 1998-99.
``Hopefully, coming home will give us the extra momentum we need to get us in a comfort zone,'' coach Mike Stoops said. ``Look at the numbers. They are drastically different here than on the road. Those are things we have to use to our advantage.''
home this year? It has faced Idaho, Toledo and Washington, who have a combined 3-15 record.
It's been a different story on the road, where the Wildcats lost to New Mexico and Stanford and defeated UCLA.
The Wildcats have struggled to stop the run on the road. They gave up 221 rushing yards at New Mexico and 286 at Stanford.
``Cal is going to see that and try to take advantage of that,'' Arizona defensive end Brooks Reed said.
After reviewing Arizona's game against Stanford, Tedford said he didn't see a lot of holes in the Wildcats' run defense.
``I thought that Arizona actually had it defensed pretty well,'' Tedford said. ``They had guys there and just missed tackles.''
Cal's success on the ground may depend on the health of speedy tailback Jahvid Best, who has been recovering from a dislocated left elbow. Best averages 105.2 yards rushing, second in the Pac-10.
The Bears beat Arizona State 24-14 on Oct. 4 without Best. They were off last weekend.
Cal's quarterback picture is also unsettled. Senior Nate Longshore won the starting job from sophomore Kevin Riley against Arizona State, passing for 198 yards and three touchdowns. But Tedford said this week that he hadn't decided who would start against the Wildcats.
``They're both getting a lot of opportunities and we'll kind of make the decision as the week moves forward,'' Tedford said.