Thursday, November 9, 2017
Have you missed out on watching Arizona’s gargantuan gunslinger Khalil Tate and find yourself with a bad case of buyer’s remorse as a result? Have you watched an Arizona defensive unit that starts five or more freshmen crush opponents in ways unseen in these parts since legends named Bruschi and Briggs roamed about?
If so, then boy are you in luck—as Rich Rodriguez, Tate and the prodigal sons of Southern Arizona will soon return to the lovingly dated confines of Arizona for a swan song of sorts this Saturday.
The Wildcats host a mystery wrapped in an enigma, to paraphrase the late Winston Churchill, in Oregon State, for the Wildcats final home game of the year.
The Beavers enter Saturday’s contest, which kicks off at 8 p.m., under interim coach Cory Hall, with a seemingly abysmal 1-8 record.
The present (and future) had a fatalistic outlook in Corvallis, especially after third-year coach Gary Andersen quit on his team—literally walking away from $12.6 million in guaranteed money.
Looks can be deceiving, however, as the Beavers have looked like a new team of-late.
They’ve come painstakingly close to winning their past three games—all coached by Hall—losing to Colorado and 20th-ranked Stanford by scores of 36-33 and 15-14.
The Beavers, in other words, are not a team that Rodriguez, Tate and company can overlook, and worthy of showing up for as a fan.
Rodriguez said as much during his weekly press conference on Monday afternoon, praising the Beavers’ recent resurgence and newfound confidence.
“…Getting ready for an Oregon State team that is clearly better than their record, and has been playing really good football the last several weeks,” Rodriguez said. “I thought our guys bounded back pretty well mentally. They understand what a big game this is going to be for our seniors, this coming weekend, our last home game. We want to put on a good performance.”
A feat to remember
Speaking of Mr. Tate—the Inglewood, California native did something during last Saturday’s 49-35 loss to USC that no other Pac 12 signal caller has in the 58-year history: Rush for 1,000 yards.
Tate, who ran for 161 yards and a touchdown on a career-high 26 attempts against the Trojans, has propelled himself into the Heisman Trophy debate.
Rodriguez doesn’t believe that Tate will be affected by the newfound hype machine surrounding his meteoric rise from backup to a bona fide celebrity on the West Coast.
“That’s a great individual award and everyone wants to talk about it,” Rodriguez said of the Heisman. “But I think even the guys that are in contention of it don’t worry about it as much as winning games.”
Take me out to the (football) game
Heisman or not, Tate and company have become a must-see attraction in town, already doubling their win total from last year’s sad season-long showing.
There are plenty of good seats left for the game, with the University’s ticketing site showing price ranges from $10 a ticket in the upper deck to $405 for a suite on the 50-yard line.
This is your last chance to catch Tate and company play in town, before the Wildcats close out its season with road games in Eugene, Ore., and Tempe (plus a bowl game at a to be determined location).
There’s a well-known derogatory thought around town that football is merely an unsavory appetizer to the real show in town, that being the men’s basketball team (of course).
There are plenty of others that deserve your attention come Saturday night, such as running back Nick Wilson—who’s weathered bruises, broken bones and broken hearts to quietly put up a solid senior campaign.
There’s 6-foot-7-inch South African lineman Gerhard De Beer, who has a legitimate shot at being the first non-kicker from South Africa to play in the NFL.
There are many others that deserve your praise, and to go out knowing that all of Tucson supports their blood, sweat (and mainly tears).
Rodriguez said as much in his closing remarks on Monday, as the long-time coach knows full-well what Senior Night means to players, as well as their friends and family.
“Saturday night will be a big, emotional night for our seniors, and then we have two on the road to finish out the season,” Rodriguez said. “We have to be ready to go.”
Here’s hoping Rodriguez and company aren’t the only ones to do so.
How to watch:
Arizona and Oregon State kick off at 8 p.m. from Arizona Stadium, with ESPN broadcasting the game live.
How to bet:
The bookies in Las Vegas have Arizona as a 21.5 point favorite over the Beavers, with the over/under at 71.5