Arizona Looking Strong; ACC 1-0
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The Wildcats of Arizona, under 5th year Coach Mike Stoops, defetaed #16 BYU 31-21 in the Las Vegas Bowl to finish the season 8-5. Look for this team to be a top 25 preseason for 2009. Also, the ACC, the butt of many-a-joke at the beginning of the season, is now 1-0 after sending a NCAA record 10 teams to the posteseason. Wake Forest got payback against Navy, a team itself that had an uncharacteristically good year.
Many were ready to get rid of Mike Stoops after the Wildcats went 5-7 a year ago, failing to reach a bowl for the 4th straight season under his guidance. But Stoops was allowed to stick around, and now has a bowl win, an 8-win season, and a nice stock of returning players back for 2009. Arizona is by no means a challenger yet to USC, but they are certainly a team that is worthy of a good look. They put BYU away late, breaking open a 14-10 BYU 3rd quarter lead into a 24-14 Arizona lead on back-to back td passes from senior qb, Willie Tuitama (24 for 35 for 325 yards and 3 scores). Unfortunately for Arizona, this quarterback will not be returning next season.
BYU missed 3 field goals in the game, perhaps a sign that they weren't playing a focused game. Bronco Mendenhall, the BYU Head-Coach, made comments about 10-3 not being a solid enough season and that his team belonged on the national stage.
'Ten and three is a solid season, but the standards here are much higher,' BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. 'Our standards here are to win the conference championship and be on the national stage.'
Those comments seem out of place for a team that lost to a major conference team in a bowl and also was pounded by Utah earlier in the season. Maybe BYU's ego needs adjusting just a bit.
The ACC was getting laughed at right and left as the season began. Then the league went out and had the best non-conference record in America nad showed balance like no other conference. The league is missing a break-away team, but the balance is unreal. Now, this conference must fair well in these 10 bowl games to really makea move ack up the conference power charts.
Wake Forest got the ACC off to a good start with a hard-fought, kinda ugly 29-19 win over Navy. Yes, the Midshipmen have been horrible forever. But in 2009, they made strides, winning 8 games, defeating Notre Dame on the road, and reaching a bowl game for the first time since their ships didn't rely on wind power. So defeating this team in a bowl is a job well-done for Wake and a good start for the ACC.
Next up for the league is the big day of December 27th when 3 league teams tangle. UNC faces West Virginia, FSU plays Wisconsin, and Miami plays Cal. If you are a fan of this league, you may want to take the 27th off and watch football all day!
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