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Schedule analysis: Arizona

6/8/2011

We'll be reviewing each Pac-12 team's schedule, and now we move on to the South Division.

Up next: Arizona

Breakdown: six home (four conference games), six road (five conference games)

Nonconference opponents (with 2010 records)

Sept. 3 Northern Arizona (6-5)

Sept. 8 Oklahoma State (11-2)

Nov. 26 Louisiana-Lafayette (3-9)

South Division games

Oct. 1 at USC

Oct. 20 UCLA

Nov. 5 Utah

Nov. 12 at Colorado

Nov. 19 at Arizona State

Crossover games

Sept. 17 Stanford

Sept. 24 Oregon

Oct. 8 at Oregon State

Oct. 29 at Washington

Conference misses

California

Washington State

Key stretch: At Oklahoma State, Stanford, Oregon and at USC: Does any team in the nation have a tougher four-game stretch? The answer is no. That's three top-10 teams and a visit to USC, which may end up in the preseason Top 25. How well will the Wildcats weather this brutal run?

Trap game: The weekend before playing at rival Arizona State, the South Division favorite, which beat Arizona in stunning fashion in 2010, the Wildcats visit Colorado. That sets up like a quintessential "look ahead" game.

Sure thing: The early-season schedule is brutal, but the Wildcats most certainly will start 1-0 with a win over the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks, an FCS squad.

Analysis: Well, Wildcats, the backloaded schedule of 2010 didn't work out terribly well -- see: five consecutive defeats to end the season -- so how about a front-loaded one? Know this: If the Wildcats have a winning record on Oct. 2, this is going to be a very good season in Tucson. But in terms of what are reasonable preseason expectations, 1-4 or 2-3 is more likely. That said, both Oregon and Stanford have to come to Tucson, when things will still be pretty toasty at kickoff. While both overwhelmed the Wildcats last fall, the 'Zona Zoo and what is sure to be a potent passing attack should at least make things interesting. The next question is where will the Wildcats' minds and confidence be if things don't go well early? Fact is, each of the next seven games looks winnable. Even at 1-4, a bowl season would be well within reach. The bye weekend -- Oct. 15 -- falls right at midseason, which is typically a good time to take a break. The season-finale versus Louisiana-Lafayette is interesting because it's possible a bowl game might hang in the balance.