Arizona Football

No. 45 — Dick Tomey, the Desert Fox, does a number on UCLA by changing offense in midseason

In the 50 days leading up to Arizona’s season-opener against Toledo, on Sept. 1 at Arizona Stadium, and its affiliate will rank the Top 50 games in the history of the football program. The ranking is at No. 45 as the kickoff to the Wildcats’ season — and the start of the Rich Rodriguez era — is only 45 days away.

SCORE: Arizona Wildcats 42, UCLA Bruins 7

DATE: Oct. 14, 1989

SITE: Arizona Stadium, 51,562 in attendance

WHY IT MADE THE LIST: The Wildcats had significant wins earlier in 1989 — triumphs at home against No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 11 Washington — but coach Dick Tomey was not satisfied with the 3-2 start. Arizona averaged only 246.6 total yards in its first five games, ranked last in the Pac-10 in total offense and passing offense, and scored only six touchdowns. Unbeknownst to Arizona’s sixth opponent — UCLA — Tomey used the bye week before the game against the Bruins to dispatch two of his assistants to Boulder, Colo., to study Colorado’s Option-I offense. He decided this after the Wildcats mustered only 161 total yards in a 16-10 loss at Oregon.

UCLA practiced for Arizona’s triple-option offense, which included the wishbone and run-and-shoot, and did not spend any time on the I formation, according to coach Terry Donahue and his Bruins. The Wildcats rushed for 480 yards, setting a record for a UCLA opponent and were only 12 shy of the Arizona school record. The 27 first downs rushing remains a UA record. Tailback David Eldridge ran for 205 yards and two touchdowns in 20 carries, quarterback Ron Veal rushed for 81 yards and two touchdowns in 11 carries and running back Errol Sapp ran for 77 yards and a touchdown in 12 carries.

“The game obviously was a real nightmare for us,” Donahue told reporters after the game. “Arizona played a great game in every aspect of the contest and was decisively, far and away, the better team in every category and deserved the lopsided victory.”

The Wildcats used the game as a springboard to finish 8-4 overall, which included the first bowl under Tomey — a 17-10 win over North Carolina State in the Copper Bowl at Arizona Stadium. The Bruins, ranked No. 22 entering the game, did not win a game again that season, finishing with five defeats and a tie and an overall record of 3-7-1.

The countdown:

No. 46 — “The Streak” reaches three games, UA achieves best Pac-10 finish (

No. 47 — Arizona’s first game at Arizona Stadium in 1929, a 35-0 win over Cal Tech

No. 48 — Underdog Arizona’s 2011 thriller over arch-rival Arizona State (

No. 49 — Arizona’s first win over arch-rival Arizona State, then known as Territorial Normal

No. 50 — Arizona’s first win in program’s history: 22-5 over Tucson Indians (


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