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. 20 as the kickoff to the Wildcats’ season — and the start of the Rich Rodriguez era — is only 20 days away.
SCORE: Arizona Wildcats 33, California Golden Bears 33
DATE: Oct. 1, 1983
SITE: Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, Calif., 40,018 in attendance
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: Arizona was 4-0 and ranked No. 3 by the Associated Press — its highest ranking in the program’s history. The Wildcats allowed only 22 points in their first four games and looked like they were about to subdue another opponent defensively as Cal mustered only a field goal with 6:47 left in the third quarter.
That’s when Arizona All-American linebacker Ricky Hunley scored a touchdown on a 57-yard interception return. The Wildcats led 26-3. They appeared headed for a 5-0 record with five of their final six games in the state of Arizona — four at home and the season-ending game at ASU. Banned from a bowl by the NCAA — which placed Arizona under probation in 1983 and 1984 for recruiting violations before Larry Smith was hired — the Wildcats could at least shoot for a perfect record.
California struck back in the next 1:34 with two touchdowns after Hunley’s interception and momentum became an ally for the Golden Bears.