Syracuse and Arizona want to work out some frustrations on each other in the Aloha Bowl.
Early ties against Michigan State and Pittsburgh started the Orangemen toward a disappointing 6-4-2 finish. Arizona’s wins over nationally ranked Illinois and USC were coupled with losses to Oregon State, Stanford and California as the Wildcats finished 7-4.
“We could have had a lot more,” said Arizona All-American cornerback Darryl Lewis, the Pacific 10 Conference’s co-defensive player of the year. “It’s been a strange year, beating powerhouse teams and losing to weak teams.”
“We don’t feel that 1990 has been the year that we wanted it to be,” Syracuse Coach Dick MacPherson said. “I don’t think we recovered from those ties.”
Arizona is a slight underdog going into the Christmas Day game, but MacPherson said the teams match up pretty evenly.
“It becomes a question of execution and turnovers,” he said.
Both teams have question marks: Can Arizona’s running game sustain long drives against the Orangemen? How will Syracuse’s balanced offensive package stand up to Arizona’s defense? Will the teams avoid inconsistencies that have plagued them this season?
Arizona this season became only the second Pac-10 team to defeat USC and UCLA on the road in the same season. But sandwiched between those victories was a 27-21 loss to Oregon State, the Beavers’ only victory this year.
“Our losses were more mental than physical,” Arizona running back Art Greathouse said. “We have to get everybody ready to play.”
Syracuse, making its fourth straight bowl appearance, hopes to show that despite its record it’s a bowl-caliber team.
“It’s been an up-and-down season, but we can end it on a good note with a seventh win,” quarterback Marvin Graves said.
Graves, a redshirt freshman, recovered from a slow start to complete 58% of his passes for 1,711 yards and nine touchdowns. He was intercepted 11 times.
MacPherson thinks Graves’ best years are yet to come.
“I think he’s one of the most pure passers--in terms of a gun--I’ve ever seen,” MacPherson said.