The wheels came off the Arizona bus Saturday night, and they came off everywhere.
UA coach Rich Rodriguez used words like “embarrassing” and “disappointing” in describing his team’s 66-10 humiliation at the hands of UCLA at the Rose Bowl.
The 66 points were the most allowed by Arizona in a Pac-12 game since Oregon put up 63 in 2001.
“We thought the guys were ready, but they weren’t,” Rodriguez said, laying blame on himself. “We didn’t respond well to what they came out with. It was just a long night all the way around.”
And just when there was talk — hopeful but existent — that Arizona could represent the South in the Pac-12 title game and perhaps (gasp) play in the Rose Bowl by winning out.
Now, it looks like Arizona has made its one and only trip to the Rose Bowl for the 2012 season, and it wasn’t a memorable one.
Arizona is now 5-4 overall and 2-4 in the Pac-12, with bowl eligibility still a win away and hopes of winning the South all but gone.
Against UCLA, UA had a season-low 257 yards of total offense and gave up 611 total yards, marking the fifth time this season a team put up more than 600 yards on the Wildcats’ beleaguered defense.
It was a quick and easy kill for the Bruins. UCLA scored on its first possession. And its second. And its third. It was 28-0 and all but over by early in the second quarter.
Arizona looked nothing like the team that returned to relevance the last two weeks with a dominating performance against Washington and an upset of Southern California.
And there was injury added to insult, too. With 12:55 left in the fourth quarter, linebacker Hank Hobson was taken off the field on a cart after several minutes of evaluation on the field. Hobson was taken to a local hospital for evaluation.
“He has movement,” Rodriguez said.
And quarterback Matt Scott, the heart and soul of this year’s team, went down with 6:17 left in the third quarter when he was apparently hit in the head by the knee of UCLA defensive end Datone Jones. Rodriguez offered no specifics or status on Scott on his radio show after the game, but Scott lay on the ground for a few moments, prompting UA trainers to come out and take a look at him. He eventually walked off the field on his own.
Last week, there was talk Scott may have suffered a concussion after a hit to the head, but that was dismissed early in the week. It’s likely that there will be more discussions along those lines this week.
So Arizona walked out of the Rose Bowl late Saturday night battered and bruised. Understandably so, considering it arrived as the 22nd-ranked team in the BCS and with hopes of playing for the Pac-12 title. Then it was 42-3 at halftime.
Nothing worked. Special teams were not so special (a bad punt and a fumbled punt by Richard Morrison). The defense was, well, nonexistent, giving up easy yardage all game. And the offense did little with Scott, even less without him.
“We’re hanging on at times, anyway,” Rodriguez said of his team’s lack of depth. “But still, we’ve been able to overcome and be resilient.
“Tonight we weren’t able to do that, and that’s disappointing. We will learn as much as we can from it and study as hard for the next 24 hours and try to fix what we need to fix.”