The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 23 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. This installment includes the Wildcats’ best encounters with Colorado. Series record: Colorado leads 13-2 but the Wildcats have managed to win two of the last three meetings, including last year’s rout of 56-31 at Arizona Stadium. The teams meet in Boulder (where the UA is 1-5) on Oct. 26.
5. Colorado 20, Arizona 14, Folsom Field (Boulder, Colo.), Sept. 26, 1953
Arizona’s conditioning after a season-opening loss to Utah was questioned by coach Bob Winslow heading into the game at Colorado. The Tucson Daily Citizen reported about the Buffaloes’ grind-it-out win over Arizona: “The Coloradoans poured on the steam during the final 30 minutes while Arizona petered out.”
The Wildcats kept the game close despite not advancing beyond their 44-yard line in the second half. Arizona only gained 19 net yards in the second half compare to Colorado’s 131.
The highlight of the game for Arizona was a 12-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown by tackle Buddy Lewis. Colorado, which won its first 12 games against the UA in the series, improved to 4-0 versus the Wildcats after this victory.
4. Colorado 28, Arizona 25, Folsom Field (Boulder, Colo.), Oct. 21, 1950
Heavily-favored Colorado maintained the lead throughout and won the field-position battle behind punter Zack Jordan averaging 57.1 yards with his six punts.
Arizona’s Ed Wolgast scored on a touchdown run, breaking the arm of Colorado defender Don Hagin in the process. Hagin attempted a one-hand tackle and suffered a broken right forearm.
Arizona was 1-3 heading into the game and Colorado was 2-2 with a victory at Nebraska the previous week.
“We’re not going into the game with the idea that we are completely outclassed,” Arizona coach Bob Winslow was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. “We know the boys will put up a good fight and we know we’re in for a good one.”
3. Colorado 14, Arizona 13, Arizona Stadium, Sept. 28, 1985
Colorado quarterback Mark Hatcher plunged for a touchdown from 2 yards out, capping a 40-yard drive set up by an interception, to give the Buffaloes an upset victory over Arizona.
Hatcher’s touchdown late in the third quarter came after safety John Nairn picked off a pass at midfield.
Arizona forced three third-quarter turnovers to recover from a 7-3 deficit and go ahead 13-7 on Max Zendejas’s second field goal of the game. Zendejas made a 46-yard field goal in the first quarter and added a 54-yarder in the third. He missed a game-winning attempt wide right from 61 yards with 3:19 to play.
Arizona threatened again but Colorado senior cornerback Lyle Pickens intercepted an Alfred Jenkins pass with 1:03 remaining to preserve the lead.
ARIZONA’S TOP FIVE GAMES VS. PAC-12 FOES SERIES
Series record: Arizona leads 25-13 Washington Huskies
Series record: Washington leads 18-10-1 Oregon State Beavers
Series record: Arizona leads 21-14-1 Oregon Ducks
Series record: Oregon leads 24-14 Stanford Cardinal
Series record: Tied 14-14 Cal Golden Bears
Series record: Tied 14-14-2 Utah Utes
Series record: Utah leads 19-16-2 Colorado Buffaloes
Series record: Colorado leads 11-2
NEXT: USC Trojans
2. Arizona 24, Colorado 21, Folsom Field (Boulder, Colo.), Sept. 27, 1986
A year earlier, Arizona entered the game against Colorado 3-0, only to be stunned by the Buffaloes (story above). In 1986, Arizona, 3-0 once again, came to Boulder determined to record the Wildcats’ first victory over Colorado in 13 attempts. The tenth-ranked Wildcats would not be denied, although the Buffs led throughout the game.
Arizona took the lead late in the fourth quarter, scoring on a 67-yard catch-and-run from quarterback Alfred Jenkins to flanker Jeff Fairholm.
“It’s ironic,” said Arizona coach Larry Smith told reporters about the quick-read play call to Fairholm, “that was the exactly the same pass we threw last year that they intercepted to shut us down. It was exactly the same call.”
1. Arizona 56, Colorado 31, Arizona Stadium, Nov. 10, 2012
Sophomore Ka’Deem Carey shattered the Pac-12 record for rushing yards with 366 while also tying the school record with five rushing touchdowns to lift Arizona to a Homecoming victory over Colorado.
Carey shattered Rueben Mayes of Washington State’s previous single-game Pac-12 record of 357 yards, set in 1984. In addition, he broke the single-game school record of 288 yards set by Trung Canidate against Arizona State on Nov. 27, 1998. The 366 yards were also the ninth-most rushing yards in an FBS game in the history of the sport.
Meanwhile, junior quarterback B.J. Denker, making his first career start in place of the injured Matt Scott, was 12-of-14 passing for 136 yards with two touchdowns. Denker also carried the ball nine times for 46 yards with a touchdown on the ground. Both of Denker’s touchdown passes were to Dan Buckner, who had three receptions for 38 yards.
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The best Arizona player to wear No. 23, according to TucsonCitizen.com’s Anthony Gimino, is running back Kenny Cardella (1951-53). He was a two-time All-Border Conference and was UA’s career rushing leader (2,060 yards) when he was done.
Last year, this site and TucsonCitizen.com ran a Top 50 Games in the history of Arizona football series. 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, which landed as No. 38 on the list. Note, after clicking on the link, you will notice last year’s ranking. The list on this page is the current ranking.
No. 23: Collapse vs. Utah after leading 27-0 in fourth quarter changed the face of UA football
No. 24: UA shuts out ASU, Kush during dominating run for Sun Devils coach
No. 25: Arizona’s defense and Doug Pfaff’s last-second FG enough to upset sixth-ranked Oklahoma
No. 26: UA upsets ASU from Fiesta Bowl consideration in program’s best stretch
No. 27: Trung Canidate rushes for record 288 yards and three long TDs in ’98 shootout against ASU
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
No. 30: Arizona’s win on last-second FG over ASU ends Frank Kush’s dominance in the series
No. 31: Arizona reaches its zenith under Mike Stoops with victory over Brigham Young in Las Vegas Bowl
No. 32: Arizona owed Cal a couple, knock Bears out of BCS title, Rose Bowl run
No. 33: Arizona’s 10-9 loss at Oregon in 1994, derailing its Rose Bowl hopes, still hurts
No. 34: ASU ripe for picking in banana uniforms for “The Streak” to reach eight
No. 35: Arizona tries risky fake PAT to beat California but loses in epic 4 overtime game
No. 36: Veal to Hill “Hail Mary” pass highlights “The Streak” reaching seven games against ASU
No. 37: USC outlasts Arizona 48-41 in one of most wild games played in Tucson
No. 38: Arizona Wildcats’ comeback against Nevada No. 38 in Top 50 games list
No. 39: Arizona shows signs of life under Mike Stoops with rout over No. 7 UCLA
No. 40: Art Luppino “The Cactus Comet” rockets toward 38 yards per carry and five touchdowns
No. 41: Fumblerooski enables Arizona to sweep USC, UCLA in L.A. for first time
No. 42: Sun Devil nemesis Dan White quarterbacks Arizona into Fiesta Bowl with win over ASU
No. 43: Struggling UA gets improbable win against ’83 Pac-10 champ UCLA
No. 44: Closing chapter of “The Streak” includes Arizona’s dramatic fourth-quarter heroics
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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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.