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.