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November 17, 2012

Wildcats seek to ensure bowl bid, end road woes



Already bowl eligible, Arizona now has the opportunity Saturday night to end another team's bowl game dreams. The Wildcats will face a Utah team that must win out in its final two regular-season games to reach .500, and the Utes (4-6, 2-5 Pac-12 Conference) have at least one thing going for them.

Arizona (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12), a victory away from securing a guaranteed bowl game, has yet to win a road game this season - with losses at Oregon, Stanford and, two weeks ago, UCLA.

"The atmosphere on the road is a little different," senior wide receiver Dan Buckner said.

Kickoff at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City is scheduled for 8 p.m. MST.

In that 66-10 loss to the Bruins, the Wildcats lost quarterback Matt Scott with a concussion and the fifth-year senior did not play last week in the 56-31 win over Colorado. It did not matter, however, as sophomore running back Ka'Deem Carey set conference and school records with 366 rushing yards and five touchdowns against the last-place Buffaloes.

This week, head coach Rich Rodriguez upgraded Scott from doubtful to probable on Thursday's injury report after saying Tuesday that his quarterback is "progressing very well."

"Stay tuned," Rodriguez said.

Should Scott suit up, it remains to be seen just how effective he can be. At UCLA and coming off a pair of hits to the helmet in the previous week against USC, Scott turned in a forgettable performance. He completed 15 of 25 passes for 124 yards but ran just three times for four yards.

That night at the Rose Bowl, there was a slight chill in air - but nothing like what awaits Arizona tonight. The temperature is expected to dip below 50 degrees but feel like the low 40s, with a 30 to 40 percent chance of rain in the area.

"For us, our biggest thing is just to go fast and try to get in a rhythm," offensive lineman Trace Biskin said.

Utah will counter with true freshman quarterback Travis Wilson, who recently took over the starting job and is head coach Kyle Whittingham's third different signal caller this season. Wilson completed just 8 of 23 passes for 55 yards and threw his sixth interception of the season in last week's 34-15 loss at Washington.

So, it could be the night of the running back. Carey will attempt to continue the momentum of his record-setting performance against the third-best run defense in the conference. The Utes have allowed just 110.7 rushing yards per game this season, and the biggest reason is 6-4, 320-pound defensive lineman Star Lotulelei.

The senior has 33 tackles - a team-high nine for a loss - and three forced fumbles this season. Lotulelei is expected to be a coveted, high first-round prospect in next year's NFL draft.

"I remember him last year," said Carey, who carried the ball just five times for 30 yards while splitting time as a true freshman in 2011. "He was the big, physical, fast guy."

On the other side is senior running back John White, who will face a run defense that ranks 91st among the nation's 120 FBS teams. Opponents have averaged 187.2 yards per game and Colorado collected 224 yards on the ground last week.

White has rushed for 761 yards and seven touchdowns this season.

Junior linebacker Jake Fischer said it will be important to get the defense off the field quickly, and it starts with the numbers on third down. Colorado had the ball for nearly 42 minutes last week.

"We're really going to focus on handling our business and people have got to step up," Fischer said.

Tracy McDannaldTracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor

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