Turns out Khalil Tate is not a Martian from the future sent here to destroy us through the power of football. He’s a mortal like the rest of us. Well, sort of.
The Arizona quarterback suffered the first tough outing of his 5-game career as his Wildcats fell 49-35 to USC on Saturday night. The Trojans limited him to 14-of-31 passing for 146 yards — 4.7 per attempt, nearly a quarter of the 16.2 he averaged last week against Washington State — with two touchdowns and two interceptions plus 26 carries for 161 yards and one touchdown. His 6.19 yards per carry were the fewest since his breakout, and just the second time in this 5-game stretch he’s been held under 11.23 yards per carry.
Still, a 307-yard, 3-touchdown effort is far from a bad game, and the 161 rushing yards would still be good for second nationally if spread out over the entire season. It also earned Tate an important distinction.
For the year, Tate has carried 95 times for 1,087 yards and nine touchdowns, good for third nationally among all players. Tate’s 11.44 yards per carry average leads the nation for all qualifying players — Navy’s Malcolm Perry is second with 10.32 yards per carry on just 44 totes — and puts him nearly two yards per carry ahead of the next closest player with at least 95 carries in Stanford’s Bryce Love (9.64 a pop on 151 carries).
The 49-35 loss is Arizona’s first setback since Tate’s explosion and, thanks to a 30-24 loss to Utah in September with Tate sidelined, all but ends the Wildcats’ hopes of wrestling the Pac-12 South title away from USC. But the Wildcats should be favored in their final three regular season games (vs. Oregon State, at Oregon, at Arizona State) which would leave them at a shot at 10 wins with a victory in their bowl game.
And then here’s the best part: they’ll get Tate back on campus for two more seasons.