3-8 overall, 2-6 conference, 8th Pac-10
Against the spread
6-3-1 (2-2-1 home, 4-1 away, 4-2-1 grass)
6-4 (3-2 home, 3-2 away, 4-3 grass)
-.82 per game
2005 Season Summary
Head coach Mike Stoops arrived in Arizona after the disastrous John Mackovic era ended in 2003 with a 2-10 straight up and 5-7 against the spread mark. Mackovic not only produced three consecutive losing seasons but also was turned in by his players for being an ogre, amongst other things.
Football dry spell
Arizona had not been bowling since the 1998 season and had four coaches during a four-year span. It was becoming something of a Duke of the Southwest in that it was a basketball school with a losing football team on the side. Stoops arrived with much fanfare and was charged with ending the football dry spell that was building on the desert.
Improved defense and fight
Stoops first team in 2004 went up a noticeable notch as it featured an improved defense and fight. The Wildcats were, however, over-valued in many games, as the mainstream gambling public thought that Stoops would improve things far more than was possible in reality. After covering two of their first three games, Arizona went on to lose five of their last seven against the sportsbooks. The season did end with a huge positive to carry through the offseason as the Wildcats beat archrival Arizona State 34-27 as 14-point dogs.
Offense needed boost
Entering 2005 there were some hopes of a minor bowl bid but that would require the offense to improve dramatically. Stoops, a defensive coach by trade, significantly improved the stop-unit but his offense needed a boost if Arizona was going to contend for post season.
Close calls early
Arizona opened the season on Friday Night ESPN TV at Utah, against the defending Mountain West Conference champions who were beginning a new era with a new coach and quarterback. Based on the past reputations of the two teams, Utah was still, however, a 7-point chalk. Arizona got the cash in a close 24-27 loss. This was followed by a 31-12 win at home over 1-AA Northern Arizona.
In their next game against preseason Big Ten favorite Purdue, the Wildcats were 7-point home dogs and lost 24-31 for a push. The close calls early in the season seemed to deflate the Wildcats in their next couple of games.
Progress was not showing
Arizona hit the road for back-to-back Pac-10 games. First, at rebuilding California, the Wildcats were shutout 0-28 as 16.5-point dogs. This was followed by a 21-42 loss at USC as whopping 39.5-point dogs for a cover.
Struggling Stanford came calling next and Arizona was a 5.5-point chalk in a game that they had to win as a sign of progress. The Cardinal prevailed, however, 16-20, as progress was not showing under Stoops’ watch. Since the opener at Utah, Arizona had just one cover in four lined games and their only straight up win in five games was against 1-AA competition.
The hype was gone as the value returned
The mainstream gambling public that was so in love with Arizona had now abandoned them. The hype was gone as the value returned. Oregon paid a visit to the desert and was an expensive 11-point chalk, as Arizona lost the game 21-28 but got the cash. Next was a trip to Oregon State against the reeling Beavers, who were still 10-point chalks. This was quite a bargain as Arizona proved in a 29-27 “upset” win and cover.
Shocker of the year
Undefeated UCLA came visiting next and surprisingly was just a 9.5-point road chalk. The number seemed light until Arizona scored the shocker of the year with a 52-14 blowout win and cover.
Letdown of the year
Struggling Washington visited next and Arizona’s price went through the roof as now they were 13.5-point chalks and lost 14-38 in the letdown of the year. The closed with a tough 20-23 loss at arch rival Arizona State as a 10-point dog.