Arizona-Washington State: Five best games

Anthony Gimino

Four years ago, Javier Morales wrote about the five best Arizona-Washington State games on our partner site, AllSportsTucson.com, and I have updated and added to some of the descriptions.

Will Saturday night's game make the list?

Let check out the top five:

(First honorable mention to the 2015 game, with 1,114 yards of total offense, as WSU won 45-42 in Tucson, but we prefer some defensive gems)

5. Arizona 10, Washington State 7

Martin Stadium (Pullman, Wash.), Oct. 15, 1994

This was a classic Desert Swarm vs. Paloose Noose affair. Both teams were ranked and had stellar defenses that led the Pac-10 that season. Arizona limited Washington State running backs to only 5 yards rushing and sacked Cougars quarterback Mark Fields eight times.

Steve McLaughlin's 27-yard field goal in the third quarter was the difference as No. 14 Arizona beat No. 20 Washington State. McLaughlin's game-winning field goal capped a drive that started after Washington State's Frank Madu fumbled and Arizona linebacker Charlie Camp recovered at the Cougars 39. True freshman cornerback Kelly Malveaux made his first career start and helped limit WSU to 224 yards.

Tony Truant lined up for a potential game-tying 39-yard field goal with 33 seconds left but missed. It was the second consecutive low-scoring game, following another cat fight the year before in Tucson (ranked next here).

Also, check out some highlights below with a very young Rod Gilmore as TV analyst.

4. Arizona 9, Washington State 6

Arizona Stadium, Oct. 23, 1993

The seventh-ranked Wildcats and Desert Swarm defense, led by College Football Hall of Fame inductees Rob Waldrop and Tedy Bruschi, outlasted No. 25 Washington State to improve to 7-0 for the first time in school history. It was the UA's first win over a ranked team that season. The Wildcats finished ranked No. 10 at 10-2 overall, their first 10-win season in school history.

McLaughlin booted three field goals, the third (a 32-yarder) clinching the game with 1:33 to play.

The Wildcats made it nerve-wracking until the end as Washington State drove into field-goal range. With two seconds left, Washington State's Aaron Price lined up for a 49-yard field goal in an attempt to tie the game. It was long enough but wide left by only a few feet.

Bruschi had two sacks on WSU's final drive to keep the Cougars out of better field goal range. He felt so good after the game, he referred to himself in the third person.

"As long as the Cats win, that's fine with Tedy Bruschi," he said.

3. Washington State 20, Arizona 19

Arizona Stadium, Sept. 25, 2004

A crucial turnover proved disastrous for Arizona in its Pac-10 opener and helped Washington State escape with the victory in a game that included nine fumbles, four of them (two lost) by the Wildcats. Arizona, playing its first season under Mike Stoops, recovered four of WSU's five fumbles, but scored only twice after them for 10 points. The UA's last fumble, on an unlikely play, cost the Wildcats the game.

Leading 19-14, Arizona got a defensive stop and took possession on its 17-yard line with 2:49 left in the game. A first down advanced the ball to the 31.

On the next play, Washington State's Pat Bennett hit Gilbert Harris on a running play up the middle and the ball flew into the air, grabbed by WSU's Husain Abdullah, who also fumbled. The Cougars' Scott Davis returned the ball for an apparent touchdown, but the officials ruled Abdullah down on the play at the UA 28 yard-line.

With 1:19 left, WSU quarterback Josh Swogger completed a pass to Michael Bumpus for 13 yards, and one play later, hit Jason Hill for a 15-yard touchdown play to give the Cougars the lead for good. WSU tried a two-point conversion but failed.

2. Washington State 35, Arizona 34 (OT)

Martin Stadium (Pullman, Wash.), Oct. 25, 1997

Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf scored on a 1-yard plunge in the first possession of overtime and the Cougars' defense stopped Ortege Jenkins on a two-point conversion as Washington State remained unbeaten with the thriller over Arizona.

Leaf was 23-of-46 for 384 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. His touchdown on third down in overtime gave the Cougars the lead for good as they improved to 6-0. Arizona fell to 3-5 and 1-4.

Arizona scored in overtime as Jenkins, on a fourth-and-2, threw a six-yard scoring pass to Rodney Williams in the back of the end zone. Dick Tomey -- his team riddled with injuries and playing with an all-freshman defensive line at some points -- opted to go for the victory with the two-point conversion attempt.

Jenkins rolled right and did not spot wide-open tight end Brandon Manumaleuna in the end zone as he was stopped by a gang of tacklers at the 2. Jenkins deliberately fumbled into the end zone but was whistled for an illegal forward fumble.

It was a rare miscue for Jenkins, who passed for four touchdown and ran for one, earning the respect of his opposite number on the Cougars.

"I think you saw a better No. 16 out there in white than you saw in red," Leaf said. "He is tremendous. Besides talking about myself, he's probably the best quarterback I've seen in the Pac-10 right now."

1. Arizona 53, Washington State 47 (3OT)

Arizona Stadium, Oct. 14, 2000

Arizona running back Leo Mills scored on a 2-yard run in the third overtime to finally lift 22nd-ranked Arizona to a grueling victory. Mills, who rushed for 129 yards on 19 carries, scored both of his touchdowns after regulation.

Washington State's Jason Gesser had attempted 103 consecutive passes without an interception over the previous four games but threw two in this game, including a costly one at the end of the third overtime. Driving for the potential tying score, Gesser's pass was picked off by linebacker Antonio Pierce at the Arizona 1-yard line.

The win gave Arizona a 5-1 record to start the 2000 season. Nobody could have known that was truly the beginning of the end.

The Wildcats lost five straight to end the season and head coach Dick Tomey was forced to resign, making this game his 95th and final victory at Arizona, where he remains as the school's winningest coach.

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