No. 28 — UA dominates No. 3 SMU, highest ranked non-conference foe to lose to Catsby Javier Morales on Aug. 04, 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. 28 as the kickoff to the Wildcats’ season — and the start of the Rich Rodriguez era — is only 28 days away.
SCORE: Arizona Wildcats 28, No. 3 Southern Methodist Mustangs 6
DATE: Oct. 5, 1985
SITE: Arizona Stadium, 52,114 in attendance
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: This one would be ranked higher on this list if Southern Methodist was not on probation, banned from a bowl that season (in which if finished 6-5). In fact, the Mustangs were on probation five separate times between 1974 and 1985. The Mustangs had plenty of talent in 1985, with players such as five-year NFL running back Reggie Dupard, when the Wildcats pulled off the upset. But we later discovered that some of that talent, including allegedly Dupard, was paid under the table as part of a slush fund and SMU was sentenced to the “Death Penalty” by the NCAA in 1987 and 1988, unable to field a football team those seasons.
Nevertheless, Arizona’s rout of SMU is certainly one for the history books for the Wildcats. The Mustangs, ranked No. 3 in the AP poll entering the game, remain the highest-ranked non-conference opponent to lose to the Wildcats. The 22-point differential is the most for the Wildcats against a ranked non-conference foe in the program’s history.
Arizona quarterback Alfred Jenkins uncorked what was a dormant offense with three touchdown passes in the upset victory. The Wildcats scored three touchdowns during an 11-minute span in the second quarter to go ahead 21-6. The Mustangs, who entered the game with the nation’s longest win streak of eight games, could never get off the canvas.
Arizona had scored only five touchdowns in its four previous games. SMU had averaged 45.5 points in its first two games in victories over UTEP and TCU. The Wildcat defense clamped down on SMU’s heralded offense, which came into the game as the nation’s total offense leader, second in rushing and third in scoring.
SMU looked impressive early, driving 99 yards for a touchdown in a 14-play drive in its second possession of the game. The extra-point attempt was blocked by Allan Durden and SMU led 6-0, but that lead was short-lived. After the Wildcats recovered a fumbled punt return, UA tailback David Adams scored on a 6-yard run on the first play of the second period. Jenkins connected on scoring passes of 13 yards to split end Derek Hill and 30 yards to split end Jon Horton in the second quarter.
Arizona led at halftime 21-6. UA coach Larry Smith wanted to head to the locker room with a larger margin but Max Zendejas missed a 60-yard field goal try with 13 seconds left in the half.
Adams, a 5-6, 168-pound tailback, rushed 22 times for 136 yards, outshining Dupard, a Heisman Trophy candidate entering that season. Dupard rushed 17 times for 82 yards, about half his 156.5-yard per game average. Dupard scored the Mustangs’ only touchdown, on a one-yard plunge.
In the third quarter, Jenkins completed a 26-yard touchdown pass to Horton, and Zendejas’ fourth extra point capped the scoring at 28-6.
Arizona capitalized on two fumbles during its second-period outburst, scoring after each. The defense also accounted for two fourth-quarter interceptions off Mustang quarterback Don King. The Wildcats rushed 38 times for 168 yards while holding Southern Methodist, who had averaged 385.8 yards rushing per game, to only 141 yards on 44 carries.
The Wildcats finished 8-3-1 that season, the tie occurring at the Sun Bowl against Georgia, the Wildcats’ first bowl under Smith.
No. 29 — Arizona stuns second-ranked Oregon in most significant victory in Mike Stoops era (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 30 — Arizona win on last-second FG over ASU ends Kush dominance in series (TucsonCitizen.com)
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)