November 10, 2006

Arizona has tough task in Cal

After the University of Arizona's victory last week over then ranked Washington State, it appears that the Wildcats could finally be picking up some momentum.

This Saturday Arizona takes on the 8-1 Cal Golden Bears at home. This Saturday also happens to be Arizona's homecoming game, where strange things are known to happen in Tucson.

In last season's homecoming matchup against UCLA a season ago, the Wildcats cruised to victory, defeating the Bruins by an overwhelming 38-point margin in a 52-14 win. Two homecomings before that in 2003, Arizona upset Washington, 27-22.

So, can Arizona take down Cal, who is for all intensive purposes, a significantly better team?

Arizona hung with then third-ranked Southern California until the waning minutes of the fourth quarter and put up a solid fight against No. 24 ranked Oregon State. However, Cal might be the toughest opponent Arizona has seen since its week two meeting against LSU

Cal's main weapon is Marshawn Lynch, who is currently ranked 11th in the nation in rushing with over 109 yards per game.

While most people see Cal as a rushing team, ranking 27th in the nation in rushing offense, the Golden Bears are also a force to be reckoned with through the air.

It just so happens that Arizona is ranked 27th in the nation against the run allowing its opponents to rush for just over 105 yards per game. If Arizona can shut down quarterback Nate Longshore and the Golden Bears' passing attack, it could have the makings of a thrilling game.

With Lynch being the predominant force on offense, many have looked past just how productive Longshore has been. He has completed 64 percent of his passes for 2,143 yards, and a ratio of 20 touchdowns to just seven interceptions.

Arizona's passing defense allows just over 205 yards per game, and Antoine Cason and the rest of the UA defense will need to step up their games, in order to totally shut down the Cal offense.

Cal's defensive line might pose a problem for Arizona, as it is good at stopping the run, as well as getting to the quarterback.

Although Arizona's offensive line has shown significant improvement over the past few games, it will need to have one of its most solid games in order to keep the Wildcats' offense productive throughout the entire game.

Sophomore quarterback Willie Tuitama came back from a concussion - which kept him out in a win over Stanford and a loss to OSU - with a decent game. In leading Arizona to victory over Washington State, Tuitama completed 10-17 passes for 159 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Tuitama will need to be on top of his game for Arizona to have a chance against Cal on Saturday.

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