Although Arizona Wildcats football has taken second stage to their intrastate rivals this offseason, critics could be overlooking the possibility that the Sun Devils are not the only dark horse coming out of the Grand Canyon State.
Entering last season, several experts pick the Wildcats as a possible dark horse conference contender because of the offensive potential brought to the roster by Nick Foles. With the Wildcats returning most of their offense weapons and their defense returning seven solid starters, it seems like Arizona should be getting a bit more press.
A questionable offensive line appears to be the biggest concern with most people trying to hope on Arizona’s wagon. While the return of Foles and Juron Criner provides the Wildcats’ offense with a definite pop, whether or not Foles will have to time to make this connection will be the biggest issue looming this offseason.
However, even with the tremendous amount of inexperience and youth on the Wildcats’ O-line, there is something slightly alluring about the chances of Mike Stoops’s troops taking the South Division by surprise.
With USC unable to win (aka represent) the South Division in the first Pac-12 Championship game, the odds of Arizona sneaking into the title match are hardly astronomical.
Arizona State is definitely a favorite to represent the South in 2011, but the list of likely contenders drops dramatically after that.
Utah could have a chance at it, but it is really hard to tell what direction they will head with a much tougher schedule.
Colorado and UCLA seem to be even larger long shots when you consider the offense problems both teams are facing.
Arizona has the offense power and just the right amount of defense to make them secretly dangerous in this first season of the Pac-12.
With a little bit of luck, this season’s Duel in the Dessert could decide which team represents the South in the Championship game. A game which the Wildcats will certainly be looking for revenge after that terrible lost to Arizona State last year.
While it is a bit of a long shot considering Arizona’s tough non-division schedule (Oregon, Stanford, @Washington), it is hard to count on the Sun Devils to live up to their lofty pre-season expectations, which may provide Arizona with a viable chance of sneaking away with the first South Division Title.