The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 37 days away. From now until then, this Web site will count down the days with facts about the Wildcats, their players, coaching staff and opponents. This is not a ranking, only a list of 100 facts and observances related to the 2013 Arizona football team and coach Rich Rodriguez.
As part of the 100 Days ‘Til Kickoff 2013 series, this site will rank the top five games for Arizona against each of their Pac-12 rivals. This installment includes the Wildcats’ best encounters with Oregon State. Series record: Arizona leads 21-14-1, but the tables have considerably turned in the Beavers’ favor over the last 14 games. Oregon State has a 12-2 record dating to 1999. The teams do not play again in the regular season until 2015 because of the Pac-12’s unbalanced schedule since the addition of Utah and Colorado in 2011.
5. Arizona 21, Oregon State 17, Arizona Stadium, Sept. 16, 1978
The Wildcats beat Oregon State in front of 49,056 at Arizona Stadium in their inaugural Pac-10 game after moving from the WAC. Jim Krohn, an Amphi High School graduate, quarterbacked the Wildcats to the victory. Arizona withstood two Beavers’ scoring threats in the final quarter before Krohn directed the Cats on a 74-yard scoring drive that gave them a two-touchdown lead with 5:59 left in the game.
Larry Heater’s 1-yard run and Bill Zivic’s extra point provided the final margin.
“It was an exciting time,” Krohn told the Tucson Citizen afterward. “There was a lot of buzz on campus and talk around town about us moving into the ‘big time.’ As players, we felt going in that we were probably in the middle of the Pac-10 competitively, but to go out there and show it, in your first game in the league, was something special.”
4. Oregon State 38, Arizona 35, Arizona Stadium, Sept. 29, 2012
After Oregon State took a 17-0 lead, Arizona — wearing copper helmets for the first time — charged back and the teams traded scores in the second half of a game filled with big plays and 1,158 yards of combined offense. Arizona took a 35-31 lead with 5:34 left when Matt Scott hit Austin Hill on a 7-yard touchdown, but that left too much time for Oregon State’s hot quarterback Sean Mannion, who passed for a career-high 433 yards.
Mannion, a sophomore, guided the Beavers 75 yards down the field in 10 plays. Facing a third-and-5 with just over a minute left, Mannion called out a play that sent one receiver into the left flat and Connor Hamlett down the sideline. Arizona’s defenders followed the receiver in the flat and Mannion passed to Hamlet, who made the winning score with 1:09 remaining.
The game was Arizona’s first Pac-12 encounter with Rich Rodriguez as head coach. Oregon State increased its winning streak over Arizona in Tucson to six games dating to 1997.
3. Arizona 29, Oregon State 27, Reser Stadium (Corvallis, Ore.), Oct. 29, 2005
Arizona freshman quarterback Willie Tuitama threw for 335 yards in his first career start, leading the Wildcats to their first Pac-10 victory of that season. Oregon State lost to the Wildcats at home for the first time since 1998.
Mike Thomas, another freshman, had 162 yards receiving and Anthony Johnson added 117 for Arizona. The Wildcats held on after building a 23-10 halftime lead behind a 40-yard interception touchdown return by Michael Johnson and a 75-yard TD pass from Tuitama to Thomas.
Oregon State threatened to take the lead early in the fourth quarter, driving to the Arizona 24, but Johnathan Turner stripped the ball from quarterback Matt Moore and the Wildcats recovered. The Oregon State defense forced Arizona three-and-out on consecutive drives, but Moore threw two more interceptions, one coming on the last play of the game.
2. Arizona 37, Oregon State 32, Reser Stadium, Sept. 26, 2009
Nick Foles, who went on to become Arizona’s career leader in passing yards, passed for 254 yards and three touchdowns in his first start as a college quarterback. Foles, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, completed 25 of 34 passes and consistently moved Arizona’s offense against a porous Oregon State pass defense, which ranked 109th in the country.
The Beavers fell behind 28-17 in the third quarter and had three chances for a winning drive. Starting at their own 3 with just over three minutes left in the game, the Beavers completed three passes, but Sean Canfield was picked off by Devin Ross.
Arizona went three-and-out, but punter Keenyn Crier pinned Oregon State to its 2, and the Beaver offensive line wilted. On the first play, Canfield was dumped in the end zone for a safety. The Beavers recovered the on-side kick, but Canfield was sacked twice more to end the game.
1. Arizona 14, Oregon State 14, Reser Stadium, Sept. 19, 1992
This game was symbolic for historical reasons beyond a tie with an Oregon State team that finished 1-9-1 that season. This is the game that ignited Arizona to its Desert Swarm status starting in the following game at No. 1 Miami, lost by the Wildcats 8-7 when Steve McLaughlin’s potential game-winning field goal sailed wide right.
After the tie with Oregon State, which felt like a loss because the UA allowed a late touchdown and two-point conversion to even the game, coach Dick Tomey held individual meetings with each player to get them to refocus. They did just that against Miami and the following five games in which they went unbeaten and beat No. 11 UCLA, No. 8 Stanford and No. 1 Washington.
In the tie with Oregon State, Mark Olford, a 5-foot-8 quarterback, ran four yards for a touchdown, then leaped across the goal line for the two-point conversion with 1:47 to play. McLaughlin missed a 44-yard field-goal attempt with 21 seconds to play that would have given the victory to Arizona, which fell to 1-1-1 overall and 0-1-1 in the Pac-10.
The best Arizona player to wear No. 37, according to TucsonCitizen.com’s Anthony Gimino, is halfback Bob Svob (1938-40). He later became a Wildcat assistant, a longtime UA administrator and was inducted into the Arizona Hall of Fame.
Last year, this site and TucsonCitizen.com ran a Top 50 Games in the history of Arizona football series. I will relive that list here with less than 50 days to kickoff and add one game to it: Arizona’s improbable 49-48 win over Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl last December, which landed as No. 38 on the list. Note, after clicking on the link, you will notice last year’s ranking. The list on this page is the current ranking.
No. 37 — USC outlasts Arizona 48-41 in one of most wild games played in Tucson
No. 38 — Arizona Wildcats’ comeback against Nevada No. 38 in Top 50 games list
No. 39 — Arizona shows signs of life under Mike Stoops with rout over No. 7 UCLA
No. 40 — Art Luppino “The Cactus Comet” rockets toward 38 yards per carry and five touchdowns
No. 41 — Fumblerooski enables Arizona to sweep USC, UCLA in L.A. for first time
No. 42 — Sun Devil nemesis Dan White quarterbacks Arizona into Fiesta Bowl with win over ASU
No. 43 — Struggling UA gets improbable win against ’83 Pac-10 champ UCLA
No. 44 — Closing chapter of “The Streak” includes Arizona’s dramatic fourth-quarter heroics
No. 45 — Arizona overcomes rival Texas Tech with unfathomable late-game rally
No. 46 — Dick Tomey, the Desert Fox, does a number on UCLA by changing offense in midseason
No. 47 — “The Streak” reaches three games, UA achieves best Pac-10 finish
No. 48 — Arizona’s first game at Arizona Stadium in 1929, a 35-0 win over Cal Tech
No. 49 — Underdog Arizona’s 2011 thriller over arch-rival Arizona State
No. 50 — Arizona’s first win over arch-rival Arizona State, then known as Territorial Normal
Dropped out — Arizona’s first win in program’s history: 22-5 over Tucson Indians
WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports, TucsonCitizen.com and Sports Illustrated-sponsored site ZonaZealots.com.