The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 32 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 Stanford. Series record: It’s tied, 14-14, but Stanford has the upper hand lately, going 8-3 against the Wildcats since 1999. Arizona’s record against Pac-12 North foes Stanford, Oregon and Oregon State since 1999, the year before Dick Tomey left the program: An unbelievable 7-32. Stanford and Arizona do not play in the regular season until 2015.
5. Arizona 23, Stanford 13, Stanford Stadium (Palo Alto, Calif.), Oct. 31, 1987
In one of the great individual performances in Arizona history, senior safety Chuck Cecil set a school record (and tied the Pac-10 record) with four interceptions in the come-from-behind win against the Cardinal.
The Wildcats, trailing 10-6 early in the third quarter, took the lead for good when freshman quarterback Ronald Veal scored on a three-yard touchdown run. The go-ahead drive included a 21-yard pass from Veal to Derek Hill, who totaled 208 yards receiving on seven receptions.
Stanford drove to the Arizona 25 on the next possession, but Cecil made an interception to end the threat. On the UA’s ensuing possession, Veal threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to running back Darryll Lewis — who later in his career became a Jim Thorpe Award winner as a cornerback.
4. Arizona 21, Stanford 6, Stanford Stadium (Palo Alto, Calif.), Oct. 17, 1992
During Stanford’s successful 1992 season — in which it went 9-3 with a Blockbuster Bowl blowout of Penn State — the Cardinal had a 5-1 home record, including a win over USC. That one home loss was to the upstart Wildcats with their newfound Desert Swarm defense.
Arizona, which in the previous two weeks lost at No. 1 Miami 8-7 and beat No. 11 UCLA 23-3 in Tucson, had eight sacks and forced a key fumble on the 1-yard line as the Wildcats upset eighth-ranked Stanford. The Cardinal had the Pac-10’s No. 1-rated defense at the time but it could not withstand Arizona’s rushing attack.
Arizona had 256 yards rushing, with Ontiwaun Carter gaining 97 yards on 20 carries. Billy Johnson had 80 yards on 12 carries and Chuck Levy had 72 on 15 attempts.
The game turned when Tedy Bruschi stripped the ball from backup quarterback Mark Butterfield as he cocked his arm to throw. Bruschi recovered the fumble at the Stanford 1, and quarterback George Malauulu went into the end zone on a keeper on the next play to give Arizona a 7-6 lead in the second half.
3. Stanford 54, Arizona 48 (OT), Stanford Stadium (Palo Alto, Calif.), Sept. 22, 1990
Josh Nunes threw for a career-high 360 yards and two touchdowns and ran for three more scores, rallying No. 18 Stanford from a two-touchdown deficit to stun Arizona.
Chase Thomas intercepted a tipped pass by Matt Scott in overtime and Stepfan Taylor ran for a 21-yard touchdown two plays later to end the wild offensive game.
Scott completed 45 of 69 passes — both school records — for 491 yards and three touchdowns until Henry Anderson tipped his final pass in overtime that Thomas intercepted. Arizona amassed 617 total yards, the same amount as Stanford.
2. Arizona 43, Stanford 38, Arizona Stadium, Oct. 17, 2009
Nic Grigsby rushed for a 57-yard touchdown on a crucial third-down play with 2:57 to go, capping an Arizona comeback from a 15-point deficit.
The Wildcats ended the wild game — and a four-game losing streak to the Cardinal in Tucson — by repelling Stanford on fourth-and-10 at Arizona’s 17. UA cornerback Trevin Wade batted down a pass from Andrew Luck intended for Chris Owusu in the end zone.
Nick Foles threw for 415 yards and three touchdowns as the Wildcats overcame a big night by Luck (423 yards and three touchdowns) and Heisman contender Toby Gerhart (123 yards rushing and two touchdowns).
The game turned when Stanford, leading 38-36, went for it on fourth-and-1 at Arizona’s 8 with 5:27 to go. Luck found Owusu in the flat, but Owusu dropped the ball. Given new life, the Wildcats rallied on Grigsby’s dramatic run on third-and-17 from the Arizona 43-yard line.
1. Arizona 41, Stanford 27, Stanford Stadium (Palo Alto, Calif.), Nov. 6, 1982
Stanford, featuring quarterback John Elway, was just one week removed from a home win over No. 1-ranked Washington. Arizona was riding a three-game winning streak that started with its historic win at Notre Dame.
The Wildcats outscored Stanford 28-0 in the final 12 minutes to overcome a 27-13 deficit. The go-ahead touchdown was an 11-yard halfback pass from Brian Holland to quarterback Tom Tunnicliffe (at the 3:50 mark of the above YouTube video).
Holland also rushed for two touchdowns in the Arizona rally. Vance Johnson, who rushed for a 79-yard touchdown in the first half, finished with 160 yards on the ground for the Wildcats.
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The best Arizona player to wear No. 32, according to TucsonCitizen.com’s Anthony Gimino, is defensive back Marcellus Greene (1979-80). A transfer from Cincinnati, he was a second-team all-league both seasons at UA, and an accomplished punt returner.
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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. 32: Arizona owed Cal a couple, knock Bears out of BCS title, Rose Bowl run
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
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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.