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No. 18 Stanford, Arizona both look to bounce back

Associated Press Modified: October 5, 2012 at 5:05 pm •  Published: October 5, 2012
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STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Any doubts Stanford coach David Shaw had about how his team would respond to last week's stunning 17-13 loss at Washington ended 48 hours later.

While coaches held a meeting to discuss recruiting, the short run players do two nights after every game took on a different tone. Word spread back to Shaw that players were particularly "fired up, jacked up, excited about it and got after it."

"We've got a resilient group," Shaw said. "These players are more resilient than the coaches, more resilient than the media, than fans. We dwell, they don't."

The real test of that resolve will come Saturday when No. 18 Stanford (3-1, 1-1 Pac-12) holds its homecoming game against Arizona, a program remodeled under new coach Rich Rodriguez that is facing an equally critical tilt in its season.

The Wildcats (3-2, 0-2) also started with three straight wins, including a 59-38 victory over Oklahoma State, until back-to-back losses against Oregon and Oregon State. Stanford will be the third straight ranked opponent Arizona has played, and how it all shakes out for both will go a long way in determining which direction each season breaks.

"The margin of error is real slim," Arizona offensive tackle Fabbians Ebbele said. "No room for mistakes."

Only the annual Oregon-Stanford matchup might feature more contrasting styles within the conference than the Cardinal and Wildcats will showcase at Stanford Stadium.

Arizona's hurry-up offense led by quarterback Matt Scott averages 88 plays per game, behind only Marshall for most in the nation. The pace has been good at keeping opponents off-balance; the Wildcats are 10th nationally with 538 yards per game.

Stanford, on the other hand, plays a power game featuring packages with seven or eight linemen or multiple tight ends — sometimes even both on the same play. The Cardinal lean on running back Stepfan Taylor to control the clock and the third-best run defense in the nation, which has allowed only 65.2 yards per game.

"Some of the formations and the size of the guys that they have are really unique. For us, being a really small team and way too small defensively is a cause for concern," Rodriguez said. "We have to play bigger than we are if we want a chance to win."

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