First, Toledo. Then, The Citadel.
No, that’s not a drunk college kid’s wayward itinerary to spring break in Florida. Those were the first two games for No. 24 Arizona. Yes, the Wildcats (2-0) won both. The collective score was 93-8. So, really, Arizona did what it was supposed to do.
It took care of business with vigor.
Quarterback Nick Foles has completed 49 of 59 passes for 574 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. The 49 of 59 is 83 percent, an impressive number regardless of competition. His 174.77 efficiency is No. 11 in the country.
Running backs Nic Grigsby and Greg Nwoko average 8.4 yards a carry. Grigsby’s five TDs are tied with a lot of players for No. 2 in the country. UA has seven players with five or more receptions, with wide receiver Juron Criner leading the way with 12 catches and a 19.7 average.
UA’s defense has allowed just 177.0 yards a game, has recorded six turnovers and has yet to allow a touchdown. Red-shirt freshman defensive tackle Justin Washington has jumped off the stat sheet with three tackles for loss, including two sacks.
The numbers are well and good. The Wildcats know they don’t mean much, not with
No. 9 Iowa (2-0) visiting Tucson on Saturday night.
“We’re going to have to play awfully well,” said UA Coach Mike Stoops, an all-Big Ten safety for the Hawkeyes in 1983-84. “We understand that. But we’ve played them. We know what they’re capable of. We know their physical presence.”
The Hawkeyes beat Arizona, 27-10, in Kinnick Stadium last season.
Iowa needed to recover an onside kick to hold off the Wildcats, who went into last season’s game averaging 305 rushing yards and came away with just 148 against the Hawks.
You could make a strong argument that UA played the wrong QB in Kinnick.
Matt Scott won a camp battle with Foles and struggled mightily, completing just 4 of 14 for 50 yards and one interception.
Foles entered the game in the second half and hit 6 of 11 for 55 yards, including a 10-yard TD to Criner that gave the Hawkeyes some sweaty moments late in the game.
Foles, a transfer from Michigan State, knows what he’s up against this week.
“This is a big game,” he said after UA’s 52-6 stomping of The Citadel, an FCS school. “When I was at Michigan State, I watched them play and played against them last year. I know what they’re capable of doing and I will have to be extra sharp.
“We know what we’re up against next week, but I will get the guys ready to go, Coach Stoops will get the guys ready to go, and we’ll be ready.”
After The Citadel, the Cats went right to Iowa. One of the main topics was the Hawkeyes’ physical nature.
The 2010 Hawkeyes showed that gear in their 35-7 victory over Iowa State.
Iowa carried 50 times but still maintained a 5.5 per-carry average. Iowa is 25th in the country in rushing with 227.0 yards in two games.
Iowa rolled up 179 rushing yards against Eastern Illinois and 275 against ISU. That’s the Hawkeyes’ best back-to-back performances since 2008, when they went for 248 against Purdue and 222 at Minnesota.
“I was telling the guys if you haven’t seen Coach Mike mad, you’re going to see it this week,” UA free safety Joseph Perkins said. ”The Big Ten is known for being physical, so we’re just going to show them what the Pac-10 is like.”
The Cats will have the two-time zone thing on their side. UA plays in the Pacific time zone; Iowa lives in the Central.
The Hawkeyes haven’t won a game in the Pacific time zone since a 20-19 victory over Wyoming in the 1987 Holiday Bowl (San Diego) when Hayden Fry was the coach.
Iowa is 0-5-1 in this stretch, including a 35-24 loss in Tucson in 1998.
“Last year, I didn’t think we played well as a team. Our defense wore down,” Stoops said. “I think we had something close to 50 plays. You can’t do that and expect to beat them. You have to be able to maintain the football.
“That’s going to be very difficult because this is one of the very best teams in the country coming in here, and we’re going to have to play a different brand of football to beat them.”