Early schedule not impossible

Arizona's early season schedule is definitely difficult, but that does not mean it is impossible. Read on for a closer look at Arizona's early schedule and what it could mean for the Wildcats.

The season began for Arizona football last weekend and it is going to be an interesting year for Wildcats' football. It started off relatively easy with a matchup against Northern Arizona, but it only gets more difficult from there.

UA will travel to Stillwater for a Thursday night game against Oklahoma State – the team that crushed it in the Alamo Bowl – to play a game just five days after the opener. It's the first test of many for Arizona and it should give fans an idea of just exactly where they stand as a team in 2011.

The following week UA hosts Stanford and Heisman Trophy candidate Andrew Luck. With Luck under center, Stanford can be one of the very best teams in the country, but it should be interesting to see how the team plays without Jim Harbaugh running the show.

The Cardinal blasted the Wildcats in Palo Alto last season, but if there is something positive to take out of the recent series between the two teams it's the fact that Arizona won in Tucson two seasons ago with Luck at quarterback for Stanford and get to host the Cardinal this time around as well.

UA will host Oregon the following week – a team the Wildcats haven't defeated since 2007. The Ducks offense has given Arizona's defense fits for several years now and considering they return the majority of their offensive weapons, it's going to be a very tough task to come out of that game with a victory.

UA will follow those two tough affairs with two road games against USC and Oregon State respectively. The Wildcats defeated both of these squads on their home fields in 2009 only to falter at home and drop games to both in 2010.

In many ways, the way these two games unfold is going to show just how good of a football team the Wildcats are. After these two contests, the strength of the rest of the schedule drops dramatically and if Arizona can somehow sneak out of the first six games with a 3-3 record, it will be in good shape for the second half.

Not to say that Arizona's second half opponents are chopped liver. Teams like Washington, Arizona State and Utah all have the ability to beat the Wildcats and make their season even tougher.

The reality is that these teams aren't the caliber of some of the first half squads. If the Wildcats can steal a couple of victories early in the schedule, there is no reason to believe that they can't defeat the rest of the teams remaining. After all, UA has the added benefit of having a senior quarterback that should be playing on Sundays in 2012. Not only that, but with Nick Foles and Juron Criner the Wildcats have arguably the top quarterback-to-receiver combination in the country.

When a team has one of the top quarterbacks in the nation, any opponent can be beaten. When you factor one of the nation's top receivers into the equation, it makes the team that much more deadly.

So, despite the tough schedule, UA has certain pieces in place to make them a very dangerous squad; just how dangerous should be determined in the first two months of the season.

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