football Edit

Looking back at Arizona's top 5 wins over Cal

Colin Schoolers pass breakup gave Arizona a double-overtime win over Cal back in 2017.
Colin Schoolers pass breakup gave Arizona a double-overtime win over Cal back in 2017. (Stan Szeto | USA Today Sports)

Pac-12 play starts this weekend against a school that traditionally has given Arizona some classic games in the history of the program. After a close loss at Notre Dame last weekend, the Cal Bears (2-1) host the Wildcats (2-1) this Saturday on Pac-12 Networks at 2:30 p.m. MST.

Let’s take a look at the top five wins in the history of this great series.

No. 5 – Nov. 6, 2021

Arizona - 10

Cal - 3

With 24 players and 7 starters missing from the Cal lineup because of Covid protocols, the Wildcats took full advantage and were not apologizing for it. That happens when you’re riding a 20-game losing streak and you are looking for a win harder than Indiana Jones looks for museum pieces. Arizona’s defense held Cal to 122 total yards while Arizona quarterback Will Plummer rushed for 68 yards including a 21-yard scamper that set up the Wildcats first score, a 29-yard field goal by Tyler Loop. With the game tied 3-3 with 2:17 left in the fourth quarter, running back Michael Wiley scored on a 10-yard run giving the Cats enough for a much-needed win.

Extra points

Plummer was sent to the locker room twice because of injuries, including a bloody hand he received stitches for in the locker room. He returned both times and was on the field when the Cats scored the go-ahead touchdown. He had lost the starting job twice during the season but because of injuries was given the opportunity to give Arizona its first Pac-12 victory in 18 tries.

No. 4 – Oct. 21, 2017

Arizona - 45

Cal - 44 (2OT)

In the Multiverse, I want to believe there is a place where Khalil Tate won the Heisman trophy in 2018. But in our universe, Tate still had an incredible stretch during the 2017 campaign. This game happened right in the middle of that jaw-dropping stretch during the final season of Rich Rodriguez.Tate continued his magic with a 76-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. He would finish with 166 yards rushing on the evening. In a game that had almost 1,000 yards in total offense, the biggest play came on defense. In the second overtime, the home team Cal elected to go for two instead of kicking the extra point to stretch it to a third overtime. Freshman linebacker Colin Schooler strategically broke up a pass in the back of the end zone to clinch the Cats third straight victory since Tate took over the reins at quarterback.

Extra points

This was the third game of a six-game stretch where Tate averaged of 201.2 yards rushing per game during a six-game stretch.

No. 3 – Oct. 18, 2008

Arizona - 42

No. 25 Cal - 27

In Year 5 of the Mike Stoops era, Arizona made it back to a bowl game for the first time in ten years. A big win that made that possible was when 25th-ranked Cal came to Tucson. It was a tight game in the third quarter when the tide turned. Arizona cornerback Devon Ross returned an interception 21 yards for a touchdown to give the Cats a 35-27 lead. Willie Tuitama would find Rob Gronkowski for a 35-yard score late in the quarter, giving the Cats a comfortable 15-point lead they would hold for the rest of the night.

Extra points

Backup freshman running back Keola Antolin gave a dominant performance against the Bears, rushing for 149 yards and three touchdowns.

No. 2 – Nov. 11, 2006

Arizona - 24

No. 8 Cal - 20

The Wildcats gained a national reputation for being late-season giant killers for many Pac-10 foes early in the Stoops era. Cal was ranked in the top 10 of the former BCS rankings while battling with USC for Pac-10 supremacy. Arizona trailed 17-3 at the half but Arizona would score three second-half touchdowns including an iconic Antoine Cason 39-yard interception return for a touchdown. It is one of the signature plays of the Stoops era and an all-time Arizona Stadium moment. Future NFL running back Chris Henry would score the other two Arizona touchdowns.

Extra points

Mr. “Beast Mode” himself, Marshawn Lynch would gain 102 yards rushing against the Arizona defense.

No. 1 – Sept. 20, 2014

Arizona - 49

Cal - 45

Arizona had a magical season in 2014 where luck, for the most part, was finally on their side. Trailing 31-13 in the fourth quarter, Arizona did the impossible by scoring 36 points in the final quarter. The game ended with one of the top plays in the history of the program. Trailing 47-45 and out of field goal range, Arizona appeared to be buried, and then it happened. Anu Solomon threw the ball 60 yards to the back of the end zone where Austin Hill came down with the ball. Pandemonium broke out across Arizona Stadium and Southern Arizona. Solomon would finish with 520 passing yards and five touchdowns.

Extra points

Another Rich Rod shootout didn’t stop linebacker Scooby Wright from forcing a fumble, having 18 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks.

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