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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


A look back at the last time Arizona beat USC football

Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The No. 18 Arizona Wildcats hosted the USC Trojans in a college football game Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010, at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. The visiting Trojans upset the ‘Cats 21-24.

Arizona isn’t supposed to defeat USC on Saturday. Then again, they weren’t supposed to three years ago either.

In 2009, Arizona traveled to USC to take on a favored Trojans team. I was a freshman at the time, and not yet an Arizona Daily Wildcat staff member.

Four friends and I decided to make the trip. We squeezed into my friend Evan’s Jeep and drove the seven hours to Santa Monica, where my friend Justin lives.

At just 5-foot-8, 150-pounds (at the time), I was forced to squeeze between two guys in the back seat who were taller than six feet.

We didn’t arrive in Los Angeles until about 1 a.m., and the game was at 12:30 p.m. the that afternoon. I was tired, cranky and didn’t really expect much of a game for the UA against an overhyped Trojans squad.

Two weeks earlier, I was a part of the Zona Zoo crowd that preemptively stormed the field against Oregon, only to see the Wildcats falter in double overtime.

I hail from the Philadelphia-area — not exactly the most optimistic sports area of the country — and I really just wanted to see the Coliseum for the first time.

When we arrived at the stadium, we discovered our seats were in the last of 93 rows at the stadium.

There were a few Arizona fans scattered nearby, but overall the stadium was surprisingly (at least to me) empty.

Clearly, Southern Californians don’t think much of the Wildcats.

Not many teams’ fans in the Pac-12 do.

The game started and the Wildcats scored an early touchdown on a pass from former UA quarterback Nick Foles. After three quarters, it was 14-14, then halfway through the fourth USC took a 17-14 lead on a field goal.

Arizona got the ball back and worked it’s way into USC territory.

Then, Foles found receiver Juron Criner on the left sideline, and the Wildcats’ all-time leader in touchdown catches stretched and fell across the goal line for the go-ahead touchdown.

An eerie silence fell over the Coliseum as the Wildcats closed the game out with head coach Mike Stoops’ first, and only, victory over the Trojans in his tenure at Arizona.

The Wildcats clinched their best regular season in 10 years, and I sat there, in row 93, in disbelief, as USC fans filed out of the stadium.

A lot has changed since 2009. Stoops, Foles, Criner and my youth are all gone. Now Arizona has Rich Rodriguez, Matt Scott and Ka’Deem Carey, and I have significantly more facial hair.

As much as I would like to delve into the progression of my beard from when I was 19 to 22, the changes in the fabric of the Arizona Wildcats football team is much more interesting.

Just four players who saw action in that game remain: linebacker Jake Fischer, defensive end Dominique Austin, kicker John Bonano and fullback/linebacker Taimi Tutogi.

Between the four, that quartet recorded just two statistics — Fischer had a tackle and Bonano four kickoffs.

Arizona’s offense is the most prolific in the Pac-12, and the Wildcats finally have a consistent running game with Carey, which complements a stellar passing game.

Saturday’s game will not be another low-scoring affair — Arizona scores 39.1 points per game, and USC 34.9

The Trojans are stacked. The thought of Arizona’s defense trying to contain quarterback Matt Barkley, running back Silas Redd and receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods is a scary one.

But, the UA is coming off a 52-17 blowout against UW, who only lost to USC by 10 points. The Trojans have Oregon coming to the Coliseum next week, so they might be looking ahead.

The game is at Arizona Stadium, and is the Wildcats’ first afternoon home game of the season, meaning it should be filled with fans.

Arizona probably won’t win this game, but it can.

And if it does, at least I don’t have to drive seven hours to see it.

— Zack Rosenblatt is the sports editor. He can be reached at or via Twitter

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