5. Arizona 10, Washington State 7, Martin Stadium (Pullman, Wash.), Oct. 15, 1994
This was a classic Desert Swarm vs. Paloose Noose affair. Both teams were ranked and had stellar defenses that led the Pac-10 that season. Arizona limited Washington State running backs to only 5 yards rushing and sacked Cougar quarterback Mark Fields eight times.
Steve McLaughlin’s 27-yard field goal in the third quarter was the difference as No. 14 Arizona beat No. 20 Washington State. McLaughlin’s game-winning field goal capped a drive that started after Washington State’s Frank Madu fumbled and Arizona linebacker Charlie Camp recovered at the Cougars 39.
Tony Truant lined up for a potential game-tying 39-yard field goal with 33 seconds left but missed. It was the second consecutive low-scoring game, following another cat fight the year before in Tucson (ranked next here).
4. Arizona 9, Washington State 6, Arizona Stadium, Oct. 23, 1993
The seventh-ranked Wildcats and Desert Swarm defense, led by College Football Hall of Fame inductees Rob Waldrop and Tedy Bruschi, outlasted No. 25 Washington State to improve to 7-0 for the first time in school history. It was the UA’s first win over a ranked team that season. The Wildcats finished ranked No. 10 at 10-2 overall, their first 10-win season in school history.
McLaughlin booted three field goals, the third (a 32-yarder) clinching the game with 1:33 to play.
The Wildcats made it nerve-wracking until the end as Washington State drove into field-goal range. With two seconds left, Washington State’s Aaron Price lined up for a 49-yard field goal in an attempt to tie the game. It was long enough but wide left by only a few feet.
3. Washington State 20, Arizona 19, Arizona Stadium, Sept. 25, 2004
A crucial turnover proved disastrous for Arizona in its Pac-10 opener and helped Washington State escape with the victory in a game that included nine fumbles, four of them (two lost) by the Wildcats. Arizona, playing its first season under Mike Stoops, recovered four of WSU’s five fumbles, but scored only twice after them for 10 points. The UA’s last fumble, on an unlikely play, cost the Wildcats the game.
Leading 19-14, Arizona got a defensive stop and took possession on its own 17 yard-line with 2:49 left in the game. A first down advanced the ball to the 31. On the next play, Washington State’s Pat Bennett hit Gilbert Harris on a running play up the middle and the ball flew into the air, grabbed by WSU’s Husain Abdullah, who also fumbled. The Cougars’ Scott Davis returned the ball for an apparent touchdown, but the officials ruled Abdullah down on the play at the UA 28 yard-line.
With 1:19 left, WSU quarterback Josh Swogger completed a pass to Michael Bumpus for 13 yards, and one play later, hit Jason Hill for a 15-yard touchdown play to give the Cougars the lead for good. WSU tried a two-point conversion but failed.
2. Washington State 35, Arizona 34 (OT), Martin Stadium (Pullman, Wash.), Oct. 25, 1997:
Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf scored on a one-yard plunge in the first possession of overtime and the Cougars’ defense stopped Ortege Jenkins on a two-point conversion as Washington State remained unbeaten with the thriller over Arizona.
Leaf was 23-of-46 for 384 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. His touchdown on third down in overtime gave the Cougars (6-0, 4-0 Pac-10) the lead for good. Arizona fell to 3-5 and 1-4.
Arizona scored in overtime as Jenkins, on a 4th-and-2, threw a six-yard scoring pass to Rodney Williams in the back of the end zone. Tomey opted to go for the victory with the two-point conversion attempt. Jenkins rolled right and was stopped by a gang of tacklers at the 2. He tried to get the ball into the end zone, but was whistled for an illegal forward fumble.
1. Arizona 53, Washington State 47 (3OT), Arizona Stadium, Oct. 14, 2000:
Arizona running back Leo Mills scored on a two-yard run in the third overtime period to finally lift 22nd-ranked Arizona to a grueling victory. Mills, who rushed for 129 yards on 19 carries, scored both of his touchdowns after regulation.
Washington State’s Jason Gesser had attempted 103 straight passes without an interception over the previous four games but threw two in this game, including a costly one at the end of the third overtime. Driving for the potential tying score, Gesser’s pass was picked off by linebacker Antonio Pierce at the Arizona 1-yard line.
The win gave Arizona a 5-1 record to start the 2000 season. It turned out to be Dick Tomey’s last victory as Arizona’s coach. The Wildcats lost five straight to end the season and Tomey was forced to resign.
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.