In the 50 days leading up to Arizona’s season-opener against Toledo, on Sept. 1 at Arizona Stadium, TucsonCitizen.com and its affiliate WildAboutAZCats.net will rank the Top 50 games in the history of the football program. The ranking is at No. 27 as the kickoff to the Wildcats’ season — and the start of the Rich Rodriguez era — is only 27 days away.
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 occurred when the Wildcats completed the best regular-season in school history. Trung Canidate shattered Arizona’s single-game rushing record with 288 yards in 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.
“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 intrasate rivalry. Canidate, who holds the UA record with 18 games with at least 100 yards rushing, broke the single-game record of 232 yards set by Jim Upchurch against Texas-El Paso in 1973. Canidate holds the career rushing mark at Arizona with 3,824 yards on 604 attempts from 1996-1999.
Arizona had to wait until the following weekend to see if Pac-10 champion UCLA — which gave Arizona its 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.
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. 28 — UA dominates No. 3 SMU, highest ranked non-conference foe to lose to Cats
No. 29 — Arizona stuns second-ranked Oregon in most significant victory in Mike Stoops era (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 30 — Arizona win on last-second FG over ASU ends Kush dominance in series (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 31 — Arizona reaches its zenith under Stoops with victory over Brigham Young in Las Vegas Bowl (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 32 — Arizona owed Cal a couple, knock Bears out of BCS title, Rose Bowl run (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 33 — Arizona’s 10-9 loss at Oregon in 1994, derailing its Rose Bowl hopes, still hurts (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 34 — ASU ripe for picking in banana uniforms for “The Streak” to reach eight (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 35 — Arizona tries risky fake PAT to beat California but loses in epic 4 overtime game (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 36 — Veal to Hill “Hail Mary” pass highlights “The Streak” reaching seven games against ASU (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 37 — USC outlasts Arizona 48-41 in one of most wild games played in Tucson (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 38 — Arizona shows signs of life under Stoops with rout over No. 7 UCLA (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 39 — Art Luppino “The Cactus Comet” rockets toward 38 yards per carry and five touchdowns (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 40 — Fumblerooski enables Arizona to sweep USC, UCLA in L.A. for first time (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 41 — Sun Devil nemesis Dan White quarterbacks Arizona into Fiesta Bowl with win over ASU (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 42 — Struggling UA gets improbable win against ’83 Pac-10 champ UCLA (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 43 — Closing chapter of “The Streak” includes Arizona’s dramatic fourth-quarter heroics (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 44 — Arizona overcomes rival Texas Tech with unfathomable late-game rally (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 45 — Dick Tomey, the Desert Fox, does a number on UCLA by changing offense in midseason (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 46 — “The Streak” reaches three games, UA achieves best Pac-10 finish (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 47 — Arizona’s first game at Arizona Stadium in 1929, a 35-0 win over Cal Tech (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 48 — Underdog Arizona’s 2011 thriller over arch-rival Arizona State (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 49 — Arizona’s first win over arch-rival Arizona State, then known as Territorial Normal (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 50 — Arizona’s first win in program’s history: 22-5 over Tucson Indians (TucsonCitizen.com)