The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 33 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. Series record: Oregon leads 24-14, and the Ducks have dominated since 1999. Oregon has three victories in what are five of the greatest games between the teams listed below, including two thrillers won by a 44-41 score at Arizona Stadium. The Ducks hold a 12-2 record against the UA since 1999, including a current five-game winning streak. The teams play at Arizona Stadium on Nov. 23.
5. Oregon 44, Arizona 41, Arizona Stadium, Oct. 23, 1999
Josh Frankel kicked a 32-yarder, his fourth field goal of the game, with 1:04 to play giving Oregon a victory to snap the Ducks’ seven-game road losing streak. Rueben Droughns rushed for 202 yards on a school record 45 carries for the Ducks in a game that featured big-play rushes.
Three Wildcats — quarterback Ortege Jenkins, receiver Dennis Northcutt and running back Trung Canidate — had touchdown runs of 65, 80 and 60 yards, respectively. Keith Smith relieved Jenkins and threw three touchdown passes. He also had a 49-yard run on his first play. Northcutt set a Pac-10 record by catching a pass in his 38th consecutive game.
The Wildcats drove to the Oregon 29 in the final seconds, but Mark McDonald, who missed an extra point in the third quarter, missed a 45-yard field goal with two seconds to play. Arizona outgained Oregon 553 yards to 437, but the Ducks had good field position all night thanks to long punt and kickoff returns.
The Ducks scored a safety on the game’s first play when Jenkins’ lateral pass to Canidate was off the mark and Canidate had to fall on it in the end zone.
4. Oregon 44, Arizona 41 (2OT), Arizona Stadium, Nov. 21, 2009
Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was unstoppable for Arizona’s defense in a memorable game in front of an ESPN national television audience. Masoli tied the game in regulation with a touchdown pass to Ed Dickson with six seconds left, then won it with a 1-yard run in the second overtime as No. 11 Oregon prevailed.
Masoli threw for three scores and ran for three more as the Ducks rallied from a 24-14 deficit early in the fourth quarter. Nick Foles threw four TD passes for Arizona, which fell to 6-4 and 4-3 in the Pac-10.
After Masoli hit Jeff Maehl for a 4-yard score on Oregon’s first overtime possession, Foles hit Juron Criner with a 3-yard strike to tie it at 38-38. In the second OT, Oregon forced Arizona to settle for a 41-yard field goal by Alex Zendejas.
In Oregon’s ensuing possession, Masoli hit Dickson for 22 yards, and three plays later Masoli ran for the 1-yard score.
3. Arizona 22, Oregon 17, Arizona Stadium, Sept. 22, 1990
Darryll Lewis returned an interception 52 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, then made a game-saving tackle of Oregon quarterback Bill Musgrave at the six-inch line with nine seconds to play to spark No. 18 Arizona’s win over the Ducks.
Arizona tried to run out the clock when it came up short on a fourth-down play at the Oregon 30 with about four minutes left. That set up a potential go-ahead drive for Oregon, but the Ducks’ threat was stopped thanks to Lewis’ legendary play. Musgrave completed four passes, the last a 37-yard play that Michael McClellan carried to the Arizona three-yard line with 1:39 remaining. Three running plays took the ball to the 1.
On fourth down, Musgrave rolled out and attempted to dive into the end zone, but Lewis tackled him about six inches shy of the goal line. Musgrave was intercepted four times in the second half by Arizona, twice by Lewis, also had a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown called back by a penalty in the first quarter.
2. Oregon 10, Arizona 9, Autzen Stadium (Eugene, Ore.), Oct. 29, 1994
Arizona Daily Star sports columnist Greg Hansen wrote about this game: “Oregon’s victory put a haze over the entire Desert Swarm era.” The Wildcats — predicted by Sports Illustrated before the season to win the national title — were ranked No. 11 in the country 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the Pac-10. Oregon was 5-3 and 3-1.
With a victory, the Wildcats would have been in prime position to earn their first Rose Bowl berth. The Ducks, however, held Arizona without a touchdown, and steamrolled their way to the Rose Bowl by winning their last six Pac-10 games.
Oregon’s Danny O’Neil threw 15 yards to tight end Josh Wilcox for the game’s only touchdown early in the fourth quarter in the comeback win. The Ducks made history instead of the Wildcats, earning their first 4-1 start in conference play since 1970.
The Wildcats led 9-0 at halftime on three Steve McLaughlin field goals. It was a defensive battle throughout with Oregon’s “Gang Green” matching the “Desert Swarm” every possession. The play of the game was a pass interference call against the UA’s Mike Scurlock on a fourth-and-5 at the Arizona 27 that helped set up O’Neil’s touchdown pass to Wilcox a play later with 12:17 left in the game.
1. Arizona 34, Oregon 24, Arizona Stadium, Nov. 15, 2007
The Wildcats started 2-6 in 2007, Mike Stoops’ fourth at Arizona, and the Wildcat fans were becoming restless.
A three-game winning streak, culminating with the electrifying win over No. 2 Oregon at Arizona Stadium and in front of ESPN cameras, turned the tide a little for the embattled coach. Oregon, 8-1 and ranked No. 2 entering the game, became the highest-ranked visitor to lose at Arizona since the Wildcats knocked off No. 1 Washington on Nov. 7, 1992.
Antoine Cason returned a punt 56 yards for a touchdown and an interception 42 yards for another score as the Wildcats shook up the national title race. Red-clad students poured out of the stands on to the field as the Wildcats ambushed a ranked team in Arizona Stadium for the fourth straight season under Stoops — all in November.
Oregon’s loss of quarterback Dennis Dixon – a Heisman Trophy candidate — to a knee injury was a heavy blow for the Ducks in the 2007 game. They never recovered in the Thursday night game televised nationally on ESPN. Dixon hurt his left knee on an option play in the first quarter.
* * * * *
The best Arizona player to wear No. 33, according to TucsonCitizen.com’s Anthony Gimino, is running back Floyd Hudlow (1963-64). He was a two-time All-WAC halfback and was also standout kick returner who played safety in the pros.
* * * * *
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. 33: Arizona’s 10-9 loss at Oregon in 1994, derailing its Rose Bowl hopes, still hurts
No. 34: ASU ripe for picking in banana uniforms for “The Streak” to reach eight
No. 35: Arizona tries risky fake PAT to beat California but loses in epic 4 overtime game
No. 36: Veal to Hill “Hail Mary” pass highlights “The Streak” reaching seven games against ASU
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.