Arizona Football

Rivalry Week: Top 15 Arizona victories over ASU (Nos. 9-7)


Arizona faces ASU in the latest chapter of the Territorial Cup on Saturday in Tempe. This site will publish this week in the days leading up to the game Arizona’s top 15 victories in the series. Make sure to catch up on the series by clicking on this link: Top 15 Arizona wins over ASU.

NO. 9

SCORE: No. 7 Arizona Wildcats 50, ASU Sun Devils 42

DATE: Nov. 27, 1998

SITE: Arizona Stadium, 57,953 in attendance

WHY IT MADE THE LIST: The best rushing performance by an Arizona player (before Ka’Deem Carey’s record-breaking game against Colorado in 2012) occurred when the Wildcats completed the best regular season in school history.

Trung Canidate shattered Arizona’s single-game rushing record with 288 yards on 18 carries, including touchdown runs of 80, 66 and 48 yards, as the seventh-ranked Wildcats (11-1 with the win) held off a pesky Arizona State team that finished its season 5-6.

Arizona Daily Star clipping of Trung Canidate’s epic performance against ASU in Arizona’s 1998 victory.

“I knew I had to run somebody over or put a move on,” Canidate told reporters afterward. “I put some moves on and I got into a flow and went to the house. The (offensive) line told me they would give me 14 inches of daylight. That’s all I needed.”

The 92-point shootout was the highest-scoring game in the intense intrastate rivalry.

Canidate, who held the Arizona record with 18 games with at least 100 yards rushing before Carey eclipsed that with 23, broke the single-game record of 232 yards at the time, set by Jim Upchurch against Texas-El Paso in 1973.

Carey topped that with the 336 yards he gained against Colorado. Canidate held the career rushing mark at Arizona with 3,824 yards on 604 attempts from 1996-1999 before Carey gained 4,239 from 2011-2013.

In the 1998 game against ASU, Arizona had to wait until the following weekend to see if Pac-10 champion UCLA — which gave the Wildcats their only loss that season — won at Miami and advanced to the national championship game at the Fiesta Bowl.

If that happened, the Wildcats would have been a leading candidate for what would have been their first Rose Bowl berth. The Bruins lost to Miami 49-45 — squandering a 45-35 lead with less than seven minutes left in the fourth quarter — and went to the Rose Bowl. Arizona was invited to the Holiday Bowl to face Nebraska.

Arizona State’s Ryan Kealy completed 33 of 56 passes for 511 yards, third most in Sun Devil history. Four of his passes went for touchdowns, including two to Todd Heap. Kealy threw a 17-yard scoring pass to Heap on fourth and 10 with 5:55 to play to cut the lead to 43-35 and a 23-yard scoring pass to Lenzie Jackson with 1:52 remaining to cut the lead to 50-42.

In between, Canidate, a junior who grew up in Phoenix just a few miles from the Arizona State campus, dashed 48 yards down the right sideline to put the Wildcats ahead, 50-35, with 4:02 left. Canidate’s 16 yards per carry stands as a UA record with at least 10 attempts in a game. Art Luppino — “The Cactus Comet” — is the overall record-holder with 38 yards per rush in six attempts against New Mexico State in 1954.

After Kealy’s last touchdown pass, Arizona’s Brad Brennan recovered Arizona State’s onside kick. Arizona punted the ball away with less than a minute to play, then Kealy drove the Sun Devils from their 20 to the Arizona 28, but Kelvin Hunter knocked down the final pass in the end zone to save the victory.

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

Arizona’s two-headed quarterback monster — Keith Smith and Ortege Jenkins — combined for 233 yards on eight completions in 19 attempts. Smith was 5-of-8 for 173 yards. Jenkins rushed 64 yards on 10 carries, including a 13-yard touchdown run that gave Arizona a 33-22 lead early in the third quarter.

All-American cornerback Chris McAlister, who had an interception in the game, blocked a punt that set up Jenkins’ touchdown scamper. Dennis Northcutt, a 10-year NFL receiver, caught four passes for 71 yards for the Wildcats.

NO. 8

SCORE: Arizona Wildcats 28, No. 12 ASU Sun Devils 16

DATE: Nov. 28, 1997

SITE: Sun Devil Stadium, 73,682 in attendance

WHY IT MADE THE LIST: Talk about a reversal of fortunes — ASU was playing at home with a five-game winning streak, ranked No. 12 in the nation with an eye on a Fiesta Bowl bid with a victory over an Arizona team on a nine-game road losing streak.

The Cats were 5-5 overall, including 1-4 against ranked teams. The Wildcats dominated from the start, however, in what turned out to be one victory in the middle of a 16-1 run from 1997 to 1998 for the Wildcats — the best stretch in the program’s history. The Sun Devils regressed to a 5-6 record the following year.

Arizona Republic clipping of Arizona’s upset victory over No. 12 ASU in 1997.

Ortege Jenkins, a redshirt freshman who started the 1997 season as a wide receiver, threw three first-half touchdown passes and linebacker Chester Burnett made two key plays in the fourth quarter in Arizona’s upset victory at Sun Devil Stadium.

Arizona, which beat New Mexico in the Copper Bowl to end the season, stunned the Tempe crowd by taking a 21-0 lead.

Jenkins threw for 182 of his 194 yards in the first half, leading the Wildcats to a 28-7 advantage. Keith Smith also tossed a touchdown pass in the first half.

“In the first half, we were just rolling,” Jenkins told reporters. “I had great protection. Any quarterback who has five or six seconds to throw the ball can make completions.”

J.R. Redmond’s eight-yard TD run cut the deficit to 28-16 with 11:19 to play. The Wildcats were forced to punt after going three-and-out on their next possession, but Arizona State’s Steve Campbell was picked off by Burnett with 7:24 remaining and returned it to the Sun Devils 43-yard line. Arizona again went nowhere on offense and had its punt blocked. It appeared that Arizona State was going to recover, but the ball squirted free and Burnett scooped it up and rumbled to the ASU 30 for a first down with 4:56 to go.

“I had been asking for years for them to give me a fake punt,” Burnett told reporters. “It was just being at the right place at the right time. I get no cigar for that one.”

Campbell, who entered in the second quarter in place of the injured Ryan Kealy, was picked off by safety David Fipp in the final minute.

“The key to the game was the way the guys played and hung together,” Arizona coach Dick Tomey said to reporters. “They wouldn’t be denied. There are a lot of heroes and it just meant a lot to us.”

The Sun Devils missed a chance for a share of the Pac-10 title and a spot in the Fiesta Bowl. They played Iowa in the Sun Bowl instead.

Scoring came in bunches in the first half, including Jenkins connecting with Dennis Northcutt on a 40-yard strike, building a 21-point cushion.

Campbell hit Ricky Boyer on a 17-yard fade for a touchdown with 2:24 left to cut the ASU deficit to 21-7. On the next play from scrimmage, Arizona’s Trung Canidate took the handoff and fumbled and Sun Devils safety Damien Richardson recovered at the Wildcats 31-yard line with 2:10 to go before halftime. On the next play, Mike Martin fumbled it right back to the Wildcats and linebacker Marcus Bell took it all the way to the Arizona State 30.

Keith Smith (University of Arizona photo)

Keith Smith (University of Arizona photo)


“We had a lot of trick stuff that we used. It was crazy. It feels so rewarding to win up here, especially after last year (when ASU won 56-14 in Tucson in 1996). This is the biggest win of my life so far and hopefully we can go home for a bowl game and keep this momentum. We don’t care about what bowl they (ASU) go to.It was all about beating ASU, that was our bowl game.”
— Arizona quarterback Keith Smith after the Wildcats beat ASU in 1997

Shortly after that, an ASU defensive back jumped three yards into the Arizona backfield for what was an apparent offside penalty. The whistle was not blown, and even though Arizona players moved as well, the officials let the play go. While both the defensive and offensive lines thought the play was dead, Wildcats wideout Brad Brennan broke for the end zone. He got behind the defense and Jenkins lofted a pass into his arms for the easy score with 1:05 remaining. The flag thrown was called on Arizona State so the play stood, giving Arizona a 28-7 cushion at the half (at the 6:35 mark of the accompanying YouTube video).

“I was telling them to go, go. That was a gift,” Jenkins told reporters of the touchdown. “As long as the whistle doesn’t blow, we keep playing. I threw it to him, he was wide open. I’ll take the free stuff any time.”

Tomey, known for his trickery, used one and the Wildcats scored a touchdown as a result. Following an Arizona State fumble, Smith tossed a 45-yard pass to tight end Brandon Manumaleuna to get to the ASU 10. Smith lined up at tailback and Jenkins went in motion. The shotgun snap went to Smith and he fired an eight-yard TD pass to Paul Shields for a 14-0 edge with 4:01 to go in the first period.

“We had a lot of trick stuff that we used. It was crazy. It feels so rewarding to win up here, especially after last year,” said Smith, who was part of Arizona’s 56-14 loss to Rose Bowl-bound ASU in Tucson the previous year.

“This is the biggest win of my life so far and hopefully we can go home for a bowl game and keep this momentum. We don’t care about what bowl they (ASU) go to. It was all about beating ASU. That was our bowl game.”

NO. 7

SCORE: Arizona Wildcats 10, ASU Sun Devils 0

DATE: Nov. 30, 1974

SITE: Arizona Stadium, 40,782 in attendance (the last game between the rivals before the east section of Arizona Stadium was expanded)

WHY IT MADE THE LIST: Although the late Frank Kush has not coached at ASU since 1979, he is the figurehead for Arizona’s dislike for ASU in the football rivalry between the schools. Between 1965-1978, the Wildcats went 1-13 against Kush and ASU. In that 14-year span, the Wildcats lost six of seven games in Tucson by an average margin of 12.5 points.

Tucson Citizen clipping of Arizona’s 10-0 win over ASU in 1974, the last shutout in the series.

The one loss for Kush in his 13-1 run against Arizona was this dominating 10-0 victory for Jim Young and the Wildcats. It remains the last shutout by either team in the series. It also improved Arizona’s season to 9-2 — the first nine-win season in the program’s history. The game, which was Arizona’s last win against a Kush-coached team, ended a nine-game losing streak against the Sun Devils. Kush and ASU shut out Arizona two times previously, including Kush’s first season with the Sun Devils in 1958, when they defeated the Wildcats 47-0 in Tucson.

Young, who coached Arizona from 1973 to 1976 and helped the Wildcats gain the mindset they can competitively go from the WAC to the Pac-10, was quoted as saying in an Associated Press article of the victory over ASU: “It is the best win since I came to Arizona.”

It was his lone victory against ASU and Kush. It occurred a year after the Sun Devils routed Arizona 55-19 in Tempe.

Arizona Daily Star page after Arizona’s 10-0 victory over ASU and coach Frank Kush at Arizona Stadium in 1974.

“Last year we didn’t hit before we played ASU,” Young said after the 10-0 win in 1974. “We knew ASU would be a hard-hitting team. From now on, the ASU-UA series is going to be hard hitting.”

After Kush’s 13-1 run against Arizona, the Sun Devils have gone 16-21-1 against the Wildcats. It took ASU 32 years and six coaches after Kush to equal his 13-victory mark against the Wildcats from 1965-78.


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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.

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