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Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Season wrap: Arizona

By Kevin Gemmell

The Wildcats matched last season’s record, and they did it without several of their star receivers and the quarterback who got them to eight wins last year. Yes, they lost again to Arizona State, which is a ding.

But they also knocked off No. 5 Oregon at home in one of college football’s biggest upsets of the season and showed they have offensive staying power despite injuries and attrition. Plus, the defense was one of the most improved in the league.

Ending the season with a blowout bowl win over a BCS conference team should give the Wildcats plenty of steam moving forward into a year where several explosive playmakers are coming off the injured list or scout team.

You can read our graded review of Arizona here.

Offensive MVP: Running back Ka’Deem Carey was one of the most dominant, explosive players in the country, earning the Pac-12’s offensive MVP honor. He rushed for 1,885 yards and 19 touchdowns on 349 carries and leaves the school as its all-time leading rusher. Dating back to last season, Carey rushed for at least 100 yards in 16 consecutive games, which was the longest streak in FBS football.

Defensive MVP: Jake Fischer had another strong season with a team-high 99 tackles. But Marquis Flowers really elevated his game, posting 93 stops and 11 tackles for loss. He also had a sack, an interception and a pair of fumble recoveries. The defense as a whole gets a gold star for its drastic improvement from 2012.

Best moment: No question -- it was Arizona’s shocking 42-16 pummeling of the Ducks. Within that game was a four-touchdown performance from Carey and a dazzling interception when Shaquille Richardson tipped Marcus Mariota’s pass back inbounds to Scooby Wright. It was one of the top plays in the college football and one of the year’s biggest upsets.

Worst moment: It’s not just that they lost to Arizona State -- again. It’s how they lost, falling behind 30-7 before the bands took the field. Last year against the Sun Devils, they coughed up a fourth-quarter lead. This year, they just got beat. Rich Rodriguez has done a fantastic job in his first two years. But fans won’t fully be happy until he starts winning a few Territorial Cups.