Cal is a nemesis of Arizona at Berkeley, Calif., especially in the past, when it comes to derailing the Wildcats’ run for a conference title.
But recent history, including a victory in Berkeley in 2013 that improved the Wildcats to 6-2 overall and 3-2 in the Pac-12, has not been as painful for Arizona in its tightly-contested rivalry with the Golden Bears.
Arizona leads the series 16-14-2, which is a Hail Mary pass in 2014 away from being a 15-15-2 record. Cal has outscored Arizona by the narrow margin of 809-788 in their 32 games. The teams are 5-5 in the last 10 games with the Wildcats 4-1 in the last five meetings.
#GameDay in the Bay!
In the Top 50 games in Arizona history that I published entering the season, three Arizona games at Cal were ranked for dubious reasons.
At No. 15 in the ranking, Arizona blew a 20-point lead at Berkeley in 1993 and one of its most realistic shots at the Rose Bowl.
At No. 25, Arizona, 4-0 and ranked No. 3 in the nation in 1983, led 26-3 in the third quarter at Cal but the Golden Bears rallied to tie the Wildcats 33-33. The Wildcats allowed only 22 points in the first four games of that season.
At No. 40, the Wildcats lost a thriller in Berkeley in 1996 — 56-55 in four overtimes when Dick Tomey rolled the dice and went for a two-point conversion (with a fake PAT) to win the game but failed.
We’re hitting the road to Berkeley in a few hours! Here are the threads we’re bringing with us.
Since that loss, Arizona is 4-4 in Berkeley, including three straight wins from 1998 to 2002. Cal has won three of the last four but the three wins came against Arizona during its down years under John Mackovic and Mike Stoops (2003, 2005 and 2007). The Wildcats were a combined 10-25 in those three seasons. No heartbreaking losses there for the Wildcats.
Rich Rodriguez’s team was able to take care of business in the last trip to Berkeley four years ago, with the 33-28 win. The Wildcats became bowl eligible with the win, behind quarterback B.J. Denker (262 yards passing) and running back Ka’Deem Carey (152 yards on 32 carries). The Wildcats withstood Jared Goff’s four touchdown passes.
Arizona (4-2 overall) enters today’s game very much in the Pac-12 South race with a 2-1 record, tied with ASU behind USC, which is 4-1 playing a non-conference game at Notre Dame today. The three teams play in the state of Arizona next week — Arizona hosts Washington State and USC visits ASU.
If Khalil Tate and Co. take care of business at Cal today as three-point favorites, the next two weeks put the Wildcats in the national spotlight playing potentially ranked teams in Washington State and USC (Nov. 4 at the L.A. Coliseum).
Can Arizona turn back the Berkeley bugaboos of years past and keep the excitement going?
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.