No. 16 — UA leads UCLA late in third quarter but loses big in 12-1 seasonby Javier Morales on Aug. 16, 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. 16 as the kickoff to the Wildcats’ season — and the start of the Rich Rodriguez era — is only 16 days away.
SCORE: No. 3 UCLA Bruins 52, No. 10 Arizona Wildcats 28
DATE: Oct. 10, 1998
SITE: Arizona Stadium, 58,378 in attendance
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: The Wildcats were ranked No. 10 in the country, with a 5-0 record overall, winning four of those games on the road to start the 1998 season. The UA did not lose a home game against UCLA in 10 years, winning by scores of 42-7 in 1989, 23-3 in 1992, 34-24 in 1994 and 35-17 in 1996 during that stretch. A look back at the 1998 season indicates that an Arizona win over third-ranked UCLA not only would have guaranteed the Wildcats an outright Pac-10 championship but also a potential spot in the Fiesta Bowl playing for the national title.
Arizona was in position for this possible scenario, leading 28-24 with 6:15 left in the third quarter. In the previous four games in Tucson, the Wildcats pulled away from the Bruins in the second half. Not this time. UCLA turned the table on the Wildcats, scoring 28 consecutive points in a devastating 6-minute, 10-second span to end their Tucson jinx and put itself in a position for the national title game.
UCLA tailbacks DeShaun Foster and Keith Brown each rushed for a pair of touchdowns. Cade McNown, off the mark much of the night, still passed for two touchdowns and ran for another as UCLA won its 14th in a row, the longest winning streak in Division I at the time after Nebraska’s 19-game streak was ended by Texas A&M earlier that day.
Foster, who rushed for 118 yards in 20 carries, had scoring runs of 37 and 1 yards in the first half and Brown, with 91 yards in just nine carries, scored on runs of 54 and 20 in the fourth quarter. UCLA broke the game open with three big scoring plays early in the fourth quarter, McNown’s 64-yard pass to Danny Farmer and Brown’s scoring runs.
Arizona had its nine-game winning streak snapped. It turned out to be the Wildcats’ only loss of the season. The UA finished 12-1, its best overall record in school history. UCLA did not lose a Pac-10 game so it represented the conference in the Rose Bowl. The Bruins had the opportunity to play in the Fiesta Bowl if it beat Miami on the road in the last regular-season game, but they were outscored 21-7 by the Hurricanes in the fourth quarter en route to a 49-45 loss. If UCLA won that game, Arizona would have represented the Pac-10 in the program’s first Rose Bowl appearance.
“We can’t let this loss bring us down,” Wildcats defensive tackle Daniel Greer told reporters after the game. “We still have dreams, things to do. This day will never come again. We will learn from our mistakes.”
The game-breaking touchdown in the game came early in the fourth quarter when McNown executed a perfect play fake, that fooled All-American cornerback Chris McAlister, then hit wide-open Farmer over the middle on a 64-yard scoring play that put UCLA up 38-28 with 11:18 to play. It was McNown’s 50th career touchdown pass, tying Tom Ramsey’s school record.
After Arizona drove into UCLA territory, the Wildcats decided against a punt and Michael Johnson missed a 49-yard field goal, his first attempt of the season. UCLA took over on the 32 and Brown later ran 54 yards for the score that made it 45-28 with 9:33 to play. On Arizona’s next possession, Tony White intercepted Keith Smith’s pass at the Wildcats’ 20, and Brown scored on the next play to make it 52-28.
“We knew that we were the best team on the field tonight,” McNown told reporters. “We faced a very good test tonight, but we were able to answer the test. We came out of the locker room and knew that we had to make some big plays.”
The game was played in front of a sellout crowd of 58,738 – the fourth-largest ever at Arizona Stadium — and it marked the first time in seven years that two Pac-10 teams ranked in the Top 10 played each other.
“They just whipped us physically in the fourth quarter on our home field. That really hurts,” Arizona coach Dick Tomey said afterward. “The game went south so quickly and we couldn’t come back.”
No. 17 — Unranked Arizona upsets Ohio State, Woody Hayes in Buckeyes’ 1967 opener in Columbus (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 18 — Arizona and hasty coach Mudra lose Ultimatum Bowl to ASU in 1968 (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 19 — Arizona keeps “The Streak” without loss to ASU alive in ’87 with bizarre finish that ends in tie (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 20 — Arizona fit to be tied with Cal despite leading 26-3 in third quarter (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 21 — Zendejas’ last-second 45-yard FG vs. ASU generates momentum for “The Streak” to endure (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 22 — Arizona wins its first bowl behind “Heat-seeking Missile” Chuck Cecil (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 23 — Collapse vs. Utah after leading 27-0 in fourth quarter changed the face of UA football (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 24 — UA shuts out ASU, Kush during dominating run for Sun Devils coach (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 25 — Arizona’s defense and Doug Pfaff’s last-second FG enough to upset sixth-ranked Oklahoma (WildAboutAZCats.com)
No. 26 — UA upsets ASU from Fiesta Bowl consideration in program’s best stretch (TucsonCitizen.com)
No. 27 — Trung Canidate rushes for record 288 yards and three long TDs in ’98 shootout against ASU (WildAboutAZCats.net)
No. 28 — UA dominates No. 3 SMU, highest ranked non-conference foe to lose to Cats (TucsonCitizen.com)
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)