The Arizona Wildcats surprised a lot of people in 2012, making it to a bowl game and competing hard the year after hitting bottom. Head coach Rich Rodriguez got the offense up and running quickly, but he'll have to adjust once again after the departure of quarterback Matt Scott to the NFL. Will the Wildcats take a step back, or can they keep the positive momentum going? Let's take a look at their schedule and see how it breaks down.
2013 Arizona schedule
Projections from Football Outsiders' 2013 college football almanac.
The Wildcats should be 3-0 before entering Pac-12 conference play, which is good because things will get difficult quickly. They have road trips to Washington and to USC sandwiched around a bye week, then come home to face what could be an underrated Utah team. They shouldn't lose all three of those games, but they won't come out unscathed.
The good news for Arizona is that they avoid playing Stanford this year, which would almost certainly be a loss. That doesn't mean their stretch run will be easy, though, as they have three difficult games against UCLA, Oregon, and Arizona State in the final month of the season. They get the Bruins and Ducks in Tucson, but have to go north to Tempe to face the Sun Devils for the Territorial Cup. The Wildcats have found ways to lose that game in the past several seasons, so a win against their rival would be huge from a mental standpoint.
Arizona is far from the best team in the Pac-12, but under Rodriguez, it looks like the program is trending in the right direction. They could make a run at eight wins in 2013, but simply making it to a bowl game would probably be considered a success.