A look at Arizona Wildcats’ greatest games vs. Washington State



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The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 45 days away. From now until then, this Web site will count down the days with facts about the Wildcats, their players, coaching staff and opponents. This is not a ranking, only a list of 100 facts and observances related to the 2013 Arizona football team and coach Rich Rodriguez.



As part of the 100 Days ‘Til Kickoff 2013 series, this site will rank the top five games for Arizona against each of their Pac-12 rivals, starting in the Pacific Northwest with Washington State. Series record: Arizona leads 25-13 and currently has a five-game winning streak over the Cougars. The teams meet for the first time since 2010, on Nov. 16 at Arizona Stadium.

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.

Steve McLaughlin was responsible for two of Arizona's most memorable wins over Washington State (YouTube still)

Steve McLaughlin was responsible for two of Arizona’s most memorable wins over Washington State (YouTube still)

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.

Dick Tomey's last win at Arizona was a memorable one against Washington State

Dick Tomey’s last win at Arizona was a memorable one against Washington State

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.

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The best Arizona player to wear No. 45, according to TucsonCitizen.com’s Anthony Gimino, is Pierce (the hero in the Washington State game listed above). He was a JC transfer who became a success in the NFL with a lucrative nine-year career after being undrafted. He is currently an analyst for ESPN.

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Last year, this site ran a Top 50 Games in the history of Arizona football series at this site and TucsonCitizen.com. I will relive that list here with less than 50 days to kickoff and add one game to it: Arizona’s improbable 49-48 win over Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl last December. I will keep the ranking of that game secret in the new top 50 list until the day I publish it.

No. 45 — Arizona overcomes rival Texas Tech with unfathomable late-game rally

No. 46 — Dick Tomey, the Desert Fox, does a number on UCLA by changing offense in midseason

No. 47 — “The Streak” reaches three games, UA achieves best Pac-10 finish

No. 48 — Arizona’s first game at Arizona Stadium in 1929, a 35-0 win over Cal Tech

No. 49 — Underdog Arizona’s 2011 thriller over arch-rival Arizona State

No. 50 — Arizona’s first win over arch-rival Arizona State, then known as Territorial Normal

Dropped out — Arizona’s first win in program’s history: 22-5 over Tucson Indians

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The Butkus and Lombardi awards watch list was announced Monday. The watch-list announcements will continue through July 19. This site will update after the announcements.

The current Pac-12 breakdown (by school) of players on the watch lists:

1. Stanford 20
2. USC 15
3. ASU 14
Oregon 14
5. UCLA 12
6. Oregon State 9
7. Washington 4
8. Colorado 3
9. Arizona 2
Washington State 2
11. Utah 1
California 1

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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.


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