If you had told Arizona freshman quarterback Anu Solomon back in August that he would start for the Wildcats all season, beat Oregon and play in a Pac-12 title game, it’s hard to say what he would have said.
Then again, maybe it isn’t.
“I wouldn’t have said anything; I’d be at a loss for words,” Solomon said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Oregon, they’re the best team in the nation, and we got another chance to go up against them. It’s just one of those chances we got to take advantage of.”
Indeed, No. 7 Arizona (10-2) faces No. 2 Oregon (11-1) this Friday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara at 9 p.m. ET. The Ducks have won seven straight games. Their only loss this season? Yup, to Arizona – 31-24 in Eugene on Oct. 2.
Arizona started 5-0 – beating Cal on a Hail Mary and upsetting Oregon – before dropping two of its next three. In fact, the Wildcats lost to USC, 28-26, on a missed 36-yard field goal by Casey Skowron.
“After that loss, we still had our heads on straight,” Solomon said. “We still had our goals. We were hoping to just bounce back and move on from that loss. Casey, he made the game-winning field goal against Washington (on Nov. 15). So he’s doing much better. We’re just trying to accomplish our goals.”
Arizona advanced to the Pac-12 Championship after beating Arizona State, 42-35, last Friday. The Wildcats also needed Stanford to beat UCLA, which the Cardinal did, 31-10.
Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez was adamant that he didn’t want the UCLA/Stanford score on the scoreboard in Tucson. Instead, he wanted his players to focus on the task at hand, which was Arizona State.
“After we took that last knee, the ref came up to me,” Solomon recalled, “and he said, ‘Hey, you guys are Pac-12 South league champions.’”
That’s right. A ref told Solomon the good news.
“He was the very first one (to tell) me, so I believed him,” Solomon said. “We (had just beaten) a good Arizona State team. It was a very emotional game for all of us. I’m glad we got the win.”
Now they just have to beat Oregon – again. The Ducks rank fourth in the country in scoring offense (45.9 points per game), so needless to say, getting a lead and keeping Marcus Mariota in check will be very important for Arizona.
“It’s very important,” Solomon said. “(We’re) just putting more emphasis on our defense (and) trying to contain Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Duck offense. It’s very imperative just to put that kind of emphasis on it. But if they score, we just got to play catch-up.”
If the Wildcats do pull off the upset, who knows? They may find themselves in the College Football Playoff.
“It’s one of those things that we can’t control,” Solomon said. “Whatever the outcome is on Friday night, hopefully it just works in our favor.”