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.