This is the third of a three-part recap of Arizona’s nine victories against AP Top 10 teams who have traveled to Tucson. The 24th-ranked Wildcats host No. 9 Iowa on Saturday, marking the first non-conference top 10 team to play in Tucson since No. 2 Miami, Fla., beat the Cats 36-9 on Oct. 26, 1991.
The theme in Arizona’s first six wins over Top 10 teams in Tucson is Arizona’s suffocating defensive performances under coaches Larry Smith and Dick Tomey. Ironically, the UA under Mike Stoops, a defensive coordinator at Oklahoma when he was hired in 2004, has averaged 40 points a game in its last three wins at Arizona Stadium over top 10 teams UCLA, Cal and Oregon in the last five years.
Defense still played a pivotal role, with UA All-American cornerback Antoine Cason at the forefront of the wins over Cal and Oregon. But the offense finally played a significant part as well.
One other note of interest in these three substantial victories: Arizona entered each game with a losing record.
Arizona 52, No. 7 UCLA 14 (Nov. 5, 2005 — 55,775 attendance)
In this rout of UCLA, freshman Willie Tuitama, in his second college start, threw for two early touchdowns and Arizona rolled for 519 yards against the previously unbeaten Bruins. Arizona (3-6) scored touchdowns on its first four possessions, led 31-7 at the half, then scored two touchdowns in a 53-second span early in the second half to go up 45-7, capped by Syndric Steptoe‘s 63-yard punt return for a TD.
The UA’s points scored (52) and scoring margin (38 points) stand as the most against a top 10 team in Tucson. The Bruins as heavy favorites did not fare so well in Tucson with this game and the 1980 loss when they were about to be the No. 1 team. UCLA is 2-2 as a top 10 team in Tucson.