Arizona Football

So long, Stanford: Top 5 games between Cardinal & Arizona Wildcats

This is it.

Arizona’s last Pac-12 game against Stanford is on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. (Pac-12 Network).

The Wildcats are moving to the Big 12 and Stanford the ACC starting next season. The next time they will possibly play — who knows when? — will be a non-conference game.

They have been part of the Pac-10/12 together since Arizona joined the conference in 1978.

The following is one person’s Top 5 games between the Wildcats and Cardinal:

Arizona vs. Stanford

Series record: Stanford leads 17-14 with the Cardinal going 11-3 against the Wildcats since 1999. Stanford has won six consecutive games. The Wildcats’ last win in the series was on Oct. 17, 2009, in Tucson (43-38 final). The last win at Stanford for the Wildcats was Oct. 14, 2006 (20-7). Arizona has lost five straight games at Palo Alto.

5. Arizona 23, Stanford 13, Stanford Stadium (Palo Alto, Calif.), Oct. 31, 1987

In one of the great individual performances in Arizona history, senior safety Chuck Cecil set a school record (and tied the Pac-10 record) with four interceptions in the come-from-behind win against the Cardinal. The Wildcats, trailing 10-6 early in the third quarter, took the lead for good when freshman quarterback Ronald Veal scored on a three-yard touchdown run. The go-ahead drive included a 21-yard pass from Veal to Derek Hill, who totaled 208 yards receiving on seven receptions. Stanford drove to the Arizona 25 on the next possession, but Cecil made an interception to end the threat. On the UA’s ensuing possession, Veal threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to running back Darryll Lewis — who later in his career became a Jim Thorpe Award winner as a cornerback.

Embed from Getty Images

4. Arizona 21, Stanford 6, Stanford Stadium (Palo Alto, Calif.), Oct. 17, 1992

During Stanford’s successful 1992 season — in which it went 9-3 with a Blockbuster Bowl blowout of Penn State — the Cardinal had a 5-1 home record, including a win over USC. That one home loss was to the upstart Wildcats with their newfound Desert Swarm defense. Arizona, which in the previous two weeks lost at No. 1 Miami 8-7 and beat No. 11 UCLA 23-3 in Tucson, had eight sacks and forced a key fumble on the 1-yard line as the Wildcats upset eighth-ranked Stanford. The Cardinal had the Pac-10’s No. 1-rated defense at the time but it could not withstand Arizona’s rushing attack. Arizona had 256 yards rushing, with Ontiwaun Carter gaining 97 yards on 20 carries. Billy Johnson had 80 yards on 12 carries and Chuck Levy had 72 on 15 attempts. The game turned when Tedy Bruschi stripped the ball from backup quarterback Mark Butterfield as he cocked his arm to throw. Bruschi recovered the fumble at the Stanford 1, and quarterback George Malauulu went into the end zone on a keeper on the next play to give Arizona a 7-6 lead in the second half.

3. Stanford 54, Arizona 48 (OT), Stanford Stadium (Palo Alto, Calif.), Oct. 6, 2012

Josh Nunes threw for a career-high 360 yards and two touchdowns and ran for three more scores, rallying No. 18 Stanford from a two-touchdown deficit to stun Arizona. Chase Thomas intercepted a tipped pass by Matt Scott in overtime and Stepfan Taylor ran for a 21-yard touchdown two plays later to end the wild offensive game. Scott completed 45 of 69 passes — both school records — for 491 yards and three touchdowns until Henry Anderson tipped his final pass in overtime that Thomas intercepted. Arizona amassed 617 total yards, the same amount as Stanford.

2. Arizona 43, Stanford 38, Arizona Stadium, Oct. 17, 2009

Nic Grigsby rushed for a 57-yard touchdown on a crucial third-down play with 2:57 to go, capping an Arizona comeback from a 15-point deficit. The Wildcats ended the wild game — and a four-game losing streak to the Cardinal in Tucson — by repelling Stanford on fourth-and-10 at Arizona’s 17. UA cornerback Trevin Wade batted down a pass from Andrew Luck intended for Chris Owusu in the end zone. Nick Foles threw for 415 yards and three touchdowns as the Wildcats overcame a big night by Luck (423 yards and three touchdowns) and Heisman contender Toby Gerhart (123 yards rushing and two touchdowns). The game turned when Stanford, leading 38-36, went for it on fourth-and-1 at Arizona’s 8 with 5:27 to go. Luck found Owusu in the flat, but Owusu dropped the ball. Given new life, the Wildcats rallied on Grigsby’s dramatic run on third-and-17 from the Arizona 43-yard line.

1. Arizona 41, Stanford 27, Stanford Stadium (Palo Alto, Calif.), Nov. 6, 1982

Stanford, featuring quarterback John Elway, was just one week removed from a home win over No. 1-ranked Washington. Arizona was riding a three-game winning streak that started with its historic win at Notre Dame. The Wildcats outscored Stanford 28-0 in the final 12 minutes to overcome a 27-13 deficit. The go-ahead touchdown was an 11-yard halfback pass from Brian Holland to quarterback Tom Tunnicliffe (at the 3:50 mark of the above YouTube video). Holland also rushed for two touchdowns in the Arizona rally. Vance Johnson, who rushed for a 79-yard touchdown in the first half, finished with 160 yards on the ground for the Wildcats.

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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