By Patrick Klein
Arizona Daily Wildcat
As the final seconds ticked away Saturday night, amid the swarm of Colorado State players that were celebrating on the sideline, came the inevitable but still chilling chant.
"Overrated, Overrated, Overrated."
With embryonic dreams of a national championship now shattered, Arizona, 4-1 after its 21-16 loss to the Rams (6-0), will have to endure much of that sort of talk this week, as they have taken a fall in the polls (from sixth to 14th) and will likely have critics proclaiming that they never belonged in the pantheon of college football gods to begin with.
But in the sullen Arizona locker room after the game, players tried to come to grips with what had been lost while affirming that the rankings are, and always have been, secondary to winning.
"This puts a reality check on us as far as the national championship," said senior free safety Tony Bouie. "That's not possible anymore, and it wasn't something we talked about. There were whispers of it among the players, that's to be expected. This game was just a reality check."
"We don't care about the rankings, none of that stuff," said senior tight end Lamar Harris. "All we care about it is winning, and we're going to come back and we're going to win. I think this weekend we should just endure the pain, think about how this feeling feels, because we don't want it to happen again. It's a sick feeling, this is the worst thing in college football."
"I really don't listen to that rankings thing," said senior running back Ontiwaun Carter, who put together a herculean effort, with a school record 36 carries for 224 yards while catching eight passes for 56 yards, and seemingly carrying the Arizona offense on his back for much of the game. "It's not like we took them lightly. I can't say we were big-headed because weren't. We've got lots of memories from last year when we were bigheaded and came up short, like at Cal (Last year's 24-20 loss to California that ended Arizona's Rose Bowl hopes)."
"The rankings, after this, you can't worry about it," said junior quarterback Dan White. "We have one goal, to win, to beat Washington State. It will be tough, but we will have to go out there and prove ourselves again."
Oh, yes, Washington State. Arizona better get this game out of its system quickly, because the race for the roses resumes Saturday when the Wildcats face a Cougar team that has allowed just two touchdowns this season.
"We made a step backwards," Carter said. "We play a good team this week and we couldn't afford a step backward. We've got to try and gain momentum this week and put it all together and go up there and play our best game that we've played so far up there. It will be hard, but we've got to bear down."
A victory in Pullman would go a long way to erasing the pain and disappointment that the team feels now, but UA coach Dick Tomey warned that his team will have to put together nothing less than their best game in order to have a chance against Washington State.
"We have the opportunity this week, if somehow we can pull ourselves off of the deck, to go up and play our best game we've played all year," Tomey said of the UA's game against the Cougars. "I don't think we've played a game well enough to win that game this week. If we can do that, we'll feel a lot better.
"I have ultimate faith in our team. This is like a stake in the heart, but I think they'll pull themselves back up, I don't think they'll do it right now, I don't think they feel worth a damn right now, none of us do. But I think come Monday, they'll go to practice and compete, and we'll go to Washington State and battle like hell.
"Real good teams, when they have a gut check, they respond. So we'll just have to see."
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