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After snapping 20-game losing streak, last-place Arizona riding high as it hosts first-place Utes

A win is a win is a win. Especially for a program that hadn’t won a game this season — or this decade

SHARE After snapping 20-game losing streak, last-place Arizona riding high as it hosts first-place Utes
Arizona running back Michael Wiley (6) celebrates with teammates after scoring a TD during game vs. UCLA, Oct. 9, 2021.

Arizona running back Michael Wiley (6) celebrates with teammates after scoring a 10-yard touchdown during game against UCLA on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in Tucson, Ariz. The Wildcats fell that night, but finally got off the schneid last week against Cal, snapping a 20-game losing streak.

Chris Coduto, Associated Press

A week ago at Arizona Stadium, there was a massive celebration.

That’s because Arizona snapped its 20-game losing streak, the longest in the nation, with a 10-3 victory over Cal.

Utah, Arizona TV

Utes on the air


Utah (6-3, 5-1)

at Arizona (1-8, 1-5)

Saturday, Noon MST

Arizona Stadium

TV: Pac-12 Network

Radio: ESPN 700


It marked the Wildcats’ first victory since defeating Colorado 35-30 on Oct. 5, 2019. 

Never mind that this win came against a Cal team that played without more than two dozen players, and five assistant coaches, who tested positive for COVID-19.

A win is a win is a win. 

Especially for a program that hadn’t won a game this season or this decade.

After the victory, first-year coach Jedd Fisch watched Arizona fans storm the field.  

“They deserved it — 763 days, that’s a long time,” he said. “As we continue to build this program up, hopefully the fans will be rushing the field for championships rather than just for a win.”

The Wildcats are looking to start a winning streak Saturday (noon MST, Pac-12 Network) when they host Pac-12 South-leading Utah. 

The Utes know that last-place Arizona has confidence heading into this weekend after ending a long losing streak. 

“That game has to give them confidence. They got the win and I’m sure they’re going to do everything in their power to build on that and try to continue that momentum,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “Conversely, we’re going to do everything in our power to try to get a win on the road. We’ll see what happens.”

“You can’t take a team like that lightly. They got their first win and they’re going to be riding off the high of that,” said wide receiver Solomon Enis. “We’ve just got to prepare like we have every week and go 1-0 every week, no matter who we’re playing.”

Arizona (1-8, 1-5) ranks No. 125 in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 16 points per game and it ranks No. 82 in scoring defense, giving up 28.5 points per game.

The Wildcats have played six players at quarterback this season, including its top two, Jordan McCloud and Gunner Cruz, who are both out for the season. 

Freshman QB Will Plummer had to leave last week’s game a few times for shoulder and hand injuries. But he finished the game.

Plummer completed 16 of 28 passes for 129 yards and threw two interceptions while he rushed 11 times for a team-high 68 yards. He is expected to be the starter against Utah on the Wildcats’ Senior Day. 

“He’s just tough as nails. His toughness shined through,” Fisch said of Plummer. “His resiliency shined. He’s certainly somebody that you are proud of to call a teammate. You want that. You expect that. You want your quarterback, who’s your leader on the field, to be somebody that wants to always find a way to get going and to get out there and to be the guy that leads the team.

“And I think he would have been hard-pressed to not want to take that knee. We practiced victory formation since spring football. So it was nice to get into that. I know he wanted to be the one that did it.”

Whittingham said the Wildcats seem to be fine with their quarterback situation. 

“I think they’re comfortable with the rotation they had last week. My guess is that they’re settled. They have had a revolving door of sorts there and they’re not able to get settled in. They did a nice job on Saturday.”

The Utes aren’t focused on Arizona’s record. 

“We’ve got to prepare like we prepare and not treat it like we’re playing a 1-8 team,” said quarterback Cam Rising. “We have to focus on winning this game and going 1-0 this week.”

Running back T.J. Pledger knows Arizona has some momentum but that the important thing is to do what they do best.

“They definitely have a lot of juice. You can’t look past any opponent regardless of their record,” Pledger said. “In college football, you see it all the time. We’re treating it as such. We have a lot of things to work on. The biggest thing is to play better this week than we played last week.”