Double desert debacles hit Arizona's big football programs
Call it the double desert disappointments. Maybe dueling desert debacles.
Whatever name you want to put on it, the blowout losses by Arizona and Arizona State hours apart Saturday night were ugly.
And not just aesthetically displeasing. Historically hideous, as in one of the worst days ever for major college football in the Grand Canyon State.
''It was not a good night of football for us,'' Arizona State coach Todd Graham said.
Not for anyone in Arizona.
Arizona couldn't get out of its own way, turning the ball over three times in the first half, each leading to touchdowns and a 28-point halftime deficit. The Wildcats had a hard time bringing the ninth-ranked Bruins down, too, leading to a 56-30 loss on national television that dropped Arizona from No. 16 to out of the latest AP Top 25.
About 90 miles up Interstate-10, Arizona State had the same turnover and tackling problems against No. 9 Southern California. A late score allowed the Sun Devils to close the gap a little, but that was about like a Band Aid on a full-body rug burn. The Trojans won 42-14.
The combined 54 points were not the most by Arizona and Arizona State on the same day, at least going back to 1959, when the Wildcats began putting game dates in their media guide.
The Wildcats and Sun Devils lost by a combined 63 points on the same day in 1963, 57 in 2003. Two years before that, it was a combined 56 points.
The circumstances of the two losses could put the double debacle Saturday night at the top of the list.
Arizona had won its first three games and seemed to get better with each one. The Wildcats won the Pac-12 South Division a year ago and beating the No. 9 team in the nation and one of the division's top contenders would be a huge step toward repeating.
Graham has called this year's Arizona State team the best he's had, but the Sun Devils had to yet to live up to those self-imposed expectations.
Arizona State opened with a loss to unranked Texas A&M, knocking the Sun Devils out of the poll, then followed with not-that-impressive victories over Cal Poly and New Mexico. A win over USC could have given the Sun Devils a huge boost toward their goal of playing in the Pac-12 championship.
Both fell flat on the big stage. That the two lopsided losses came at home in front of raucous crowds makes it even tougher to swallow.
''It was real disappointing,'' Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez.
The Arizona day of disappointment didn't stop with the state's two biggest schools.
Up in Missoula, Northern Arizona played well but ultimately lost to Montana 23-14. The Grizzlies have been an FCS powerhouse for years, so go up there and keep it close was actually a bit encouraging for the Lumberjacks.
It was certainly better than what happened to their bigger neighbors to the south.
A look at some of the worst combined losses by Arizona and Arizona State since 1959:
Sept. 21, 1963: Arizona loses to Utah State 43-0, Arizona State 33-13 to Wichita State.
Nov. 1, 2003: Arizona loses at Oregon State 52-23, Arizona State 51-23 to California.
Oct. 13, 2001: Arizona loses at Oregon State 38-3, Arizona State 48-17 at USC.
Sept. 26, 2015: Arizona loses 56-30 to UCLA, Arizona State 42-14 to USC.
Oct. 10, 1998: Arizona loses 52-28 to UCLA, Arizona State 28-9 to Notre Dame.
Nov. 12, 1994: Arizona loses 45-28 at USC, Arizona State 59-23 to UCLA.