Friday, December 3, 2010
Two missed PATs sink Arizona
By Ted Miller
You can't ever take the PAT for granted. If you don't believe that, check in with an Arizona fan.
Kicker Alex Zendejas' extra-point attempt, which would have given the Wildcats the lead with 30 seconds left in the Territorial Cup against Arizona State, was blocked. Then another PAT was blocked that would have tied the game in the second overtime.
The end result is Arizona State upset No. 23 Arizona 30-29 in a thriller on Thursday.
It appeared James Brooks blocked both kicks, which were low.
The entire game took place after halftime. In the first half, both offenses were completely ineffective, and the Sun Devils led 6-0 at the break. But from then on, things went back and forth, with big plays and big mistakes changing momentum multiple times.
The statistics were almost identical: Both teams had 19 first downs. Arizona had 391 total yards; Arizona State had 389.
But the kickers were a mismatch. Sun Devils kicker Thomas Weber, a former Lou Groza Award winner who has struggled this year, was 5-for-5 on field goals with a long of 52 yards and made his one extra point. Zendejas made a 19-yard field goal and missed the aforementioned PATs.
Both quarterbacks turned in strong performances -- at least after bad first halves. Wildcats QB Nick Foles completed 22-of-36 for 262 yards with three TDs and no interceptions. It appeared he had led his third game-winning drive of the season before the missed PAT late in the fourth quarter.
Arizona State's Brock Osweiler, who got the start because of a concussion suffered by starter Steven Threet against UCLA last weekend, began just 3-for-15, but he settled down and ended up completing 22-of-49 for 267 yards with a TD. He also rushed for 56 yards and frequently eluded tough pressure from the Wildcats.
It is worth noting that, particularly early in the game, the Wildcats dropped at least three fairly easy interceptions, which probably allowed Osweiler to get his feet under him in his first start this season.
What does the result mean?
It means that Arizona (7-5) will ride a four-game losing streak into the postseason. That likely will cost them a berth in the Valero Alamo Bowl if Washington beats Washington State on Saturday, which means they figure to make a return trip to the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl.
Arizona State improves to 6-6. It has applied to the NCAA for a bowl waiver, despite needing seven wins, per NCAA rules, because it played two FCS teams. The reasoning is the Sun Devils only played a second FCS team because San Jose State dropped out of a scheduled game late in the offseason, leaving the Sun Devils stranded and without options.
A further justification: The Sun Devils are probably the best 6-6 team in the nation.
With just two senior starters, you will hear from them in 2011.