Arizona Football

Arizona’s upset of No. 9 UCLA first victory over AP top 10 team on road in November

Arizona celebrates its win over No. 9 UCLA at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. (Arizona Athletics photo)

November is generally when good teams step up to winning a conference title or qualifying for a bowl.

It is also a month when struggling teams may fade, especially on the road against a top 10 team in the AP Top 25.

Before Arizona played at No. 9 UCLA on Saturday, the Wildcats were 0-10 on the road in November against teams ranked in the top 10 dating to 1971. Note: UCLA is No 12 in the CFP standings, which most media outlets recognize, but Arizona tabulates records against AP Top 25 teams.

Jedd Fisch’s team played its way into that “good team” status, playing for a potential bowl berth in November by upsetting UCLA 34-28 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

The Wildcats are 4-6 overall with two games remaining at home against Washington State (Nov. 19) and Arizona State (Nov. 25).

“We have two weeks left that are guaranteed to us, and we’re going to do everything we can to find a third after that,” Fisch told the media after Saturday night’s victory. “That was a very good football team we just beat, and we know that. It’s a top 10 team in the country. We went on the road and won, and we’re very proud to say that we did.”

Arizona is 5-24 against ranked teams on the road in November. The Wildcats are now 1-10 against those teams ranked in the top 10.

Here’s a list of their previous games on the road in November against top 10 teams:

1971 L No. 9 ASU 31-0
1975 L No. 8 ASU 34-21
1979 L No. 3 USC 34-7
1990 L No. 5 Washington 54-10
2000 L No. 8 Washington 35-32
2010 L No. 10 Stanford 42-17
2010 L No. 1 Oregon 48-29
2018 L No. 8 WSU 69-28
2019 L No. 6 Oregon 34-6
2019 L No. 7 Utah 35-7

The average margin of defeat in those games was 26.5 points.

The closest Arizona came to winning was that 2000 game at No. 8 Washington on Nov. 4 in Dick Tomey’s last season as coach. The defeat was part of five consecutive losses to end that season.

Arizona couldn’t hold on to a 25-13 lead entering the fourth quarter and failed to take advantage of the late Leo Mills’ 51-yard touchdown run in the last period against the Huskies that day.

The Wildcats on Saturday night withstood the Bruins taking their first lead of the game, 28-24, in the fourth quarter.

Jayden de Laura engineered an eight-play, 82-yard drive that culminated on a 17-yard touchdown pass to Tetairoa McMillan on a fourth-and-4 situation to put the Wildcats ahead 31-28 with 6:34 remaining.

“I wanted to close the game out,” said de Laura, who completed 22 of 28 pass attempts for 315 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. “I wanted that pressure on me because I knew I could take it. I wanted that on my shoulders.”

Arizona’s maligned defense made significant stands against UCLA, including causing a turnover on downs at the Bruin 36 after Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw an incomplete pass on a fourth-and-6 play.

“We wanted to come out here and compete, and we felt like we could win,” said Arizona defensive Jalen Harris, who played through cramps late and finished with a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss. “I just know defensively we know our offense is going to score, so we just wanted to come out and focus on one stop at a time and get that stop. I think we did that tonight.”

After Tyler Loop’s 23-yard field goal put Arizona ahead 34-28 with 1:07 left, Thompson-Robinson drove his team from the UCLA 28 to the Arizona 29 facing a fourth-and-10 situation.

His pass sailed too far beyond the end zone, past the diving attempt of Jake Bobo as time expired.

FOX Sports cameras caught de Laura crouching with tears in his eyes immediately after the victory was secured.

“This is number one — this is number one right here. I love it,” de Laura said when asked about where this win ranks in his career. “There were a lot of emotions out there. We wanted it badly. I hadn’t beaten a ranked team since I’ve been here. That’s just phenomenal.”

The last win for Arizona over a ranked team on the road in November was in 2014 — the year Rich Rodriguez coached the Wildcats to the Pac-12 South title. The Wildcats won at No. 20 Utah 42-10 that year on Nov. 22.

A list of victories over ranked teams on the road in November for Arizona:

1975 W No. 13 San Diego State 31-24
1997 W No. 12 ASU 28-16
2006 W No. 25 Washington State 27-17
2014 W No. 20 Utah 42-10
2022 W No. 9 UCLA 34-28

Arizona has defeated a top 10 team in November before. The has happened nine times at Arizona Stadium. The last time it occurred is when Arizona topped No. 10 Utah 37-30 in two overtimes in 2015.

A list of victories over top 10 teams at Arizona Stadium in November for the Wildcats:

1980 W No. 2 UCLA 23-17
1982 W No. 6 ASU 28-18
1986 W No. 4 ASU 34-17
1992 W No. 1 Washington 16-3
2005 W No. 7 UCLA 52-14
2006 W No. 8 Cal 24-20
2007 W No. 2 Oregon 34-24
2013 W No. 5 Oregon 42-16
2015 W No. 10 Utah 37-30 2OT

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! 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, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, 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. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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