No. 30 — Arizona win on last-second FG over ASU ends Kush dominance in seriesby Javier Morales on Aug. 02, 2012, under Sports
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. 30 as the kickoff to the Wildcats’ season — and the start of the Rich Rodriguez era — is only 30 days away.
SCORE: Arizona Wildcats 27, ASU Sun Devils 24
DATE: Nov. 24, 1979
SITE: Sun Devil Stadium, 70,947 in attendance
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: This game signaled an awakening in the Arizona football program with its series against Arizona State, which was without Frank Kush as its head coach for the first time since 1957. Kush was dismissed five games into the 1979 season for interfering with the school’s internal investigation into allegations from punter Kevin Rutledge that Kush had punched him in the mouth after a bad punt in an Oct. 28, 1978, game against Washington.
The Sun Devils were 3-2 when Kush was dismissed. They finished 6-6 but had to forfeit five of the games after the conclusion of the season because of the use of ineligible players. Their record changed to 1-10. Thanks to Arizona freshman place-kicker Brett Weber, who nailed a 27-yard field goal with no time left, there was no need for Arizona to beat the Sun Devils by forfeit.
A roughing the kicker penalty gave Weber a second chance for the victory. Weber, a barefooted kicker who was not listed on the Arizona pre-printed roster for the game, missed the first attempt from 38 yards. The roughing-the-kicker penalty enabled him to try again from 27 yards and he nailed it. An interception by Arizona’s Jack Housley off a Mark Malone pass set up the final sequence with Weber, who coach Tony Mason used as a replacement for regular kicker Bill Zivic. Mason made the switch after Zivic missed a 39-yard field goal earlier in the fourth quarter.
It was the Wildcats’ first win at Sun Devil Stadium since 1961, ending a losing streak of eight games in Tempe. The Wildcats accepted an invitation to return to Sun Devil Stadium to play in the Fiesta Bowl, in which it played Dan Marino and Pittsburgh and lost 16-10.
The end of the Kush era proved to be significant to the rivalry. Arizona held a 23-8 series advantage over ASU when Kush became the Sun Devils’ head coach in 1958. During Kush’s 21 years at ASU (1958-79), the Sun Devils turned the table on the Wildcats, owning a 16-5 record in that period. ASU won a record nine straight games against the UA from 1965 to 1973. Without Kush, ASU has gone 13-19-1 since against Arizona, which ironically went nine years without a loss against their rivals from 1982-90.
Three fumbles by ASU enabled Arizona to take a 24-10 lead in the third quarter of the 1979 game, but the Sun Devils rallied to tie the game with 13:06 left in the game.
The Wildcats, who achieved their first winning record of 6-5-1 under Mason (in his third and final season in Tucson), were led by fullback Hubert Oliver’s 93 yards on 23 carries against ASU. Tailback Larry Heater also had 88 yards rushing for Arizona.
Arizona’s game against Pitt in the Fiesta Bowl was Mason’s last as he was fired amid alleged NCAA recruiting violations that ultimately led to the Wildcats serving a two-year probation in 1983 and 1984.
New Mexico coach Bob Davie, the former Notre Dame head coach and college football announcer for ESPN, was the linebackers coach for the Wildcats in the 1979 game. When Davie prepared Notre Dame to face ASU in 1998 at Sun Devil Stadium, he recounted driving back to Tucson with former UA assistant Ron Turner, now the quarterback coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and celebrating the victory over the Sun Devils while on I-10.
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)