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2009 adds another chapter of UW-Arizona's history

10/13/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

After the "Immaculate Deflection/Interception/Deception" decided the Arizona-Washington game, my first thought was "Wow."

Then I realized we shouldn't be surprised.

It might be one of the great secrets in college football that the Arizona-Washington series has produced as many wild, weird, meaningful and controversial finishes as any with which I'm familiar.

Consider.

1992: End of an Era

Top-ranked Washington, riding a 22-game winning streak and seeking its second consecutive national championship, is stunned -- first by quarterback Billy Joe Hobert's suspension after he admitted accepting a $50,000 loan from an Idaho businessman -- and then by Arizona, 16-3.

The extraordinary Don James Era would ingloriously and controversially end three games later -- after the Huskies lost the Rose Bowl to Michigan -- amid NCAA and Pac-10 investigations into the Hobert affair and recruiting violations.

The program went to six Rose Bowls and one Orange Bowl in 18 seasons under James.

It's been to one Rose Bowl since he "retired" 17 years ago.

1998: The Leap by the Lake.

Arizona quarterback Ortege Jenkins, in a desperation scramble with the clock ticking down its final seconds, met three Washington defenders at the 2-yard line.

Jenkins leaped toward them, flipped over them and landed on his feet in the endzone, which gave Arizona a 31-28 victory.

It became one of the great all-time highlight-reel plays.

The Wildcats would lose the next weekend at home against UCLA, 52-28, which would be their only defeat in the greatest season in school history.

Arizona beat Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl and finished 12-1 and ranked No. 4 in the country.

Washington fired Jim Lambright at the end of the season.

1999: The Drive

Washington produced one of the best drives in team history, going 80 yards in 17 plays -- knocking 9:13 off the clock in the process -- on its way to a 33-25 victory over the homestanding Wildcats, who began the season ranked No. 4 but ended up a disappointing 6-6.

A wild, post-game celebration breaks on the field out among Huskies players, coaches and fans. Roses are handed out. A fan produces a sign, "Rose Bowl Bound."

All the Huskies had to do to win their first Pac-10 championship since 1992 was beat a horrible, injury-ravaged UCLA squad and a horrible Washington State team.

Washington lost 23-20 in overtime at UCLA, inspiring more than a few snide comments about the premature post-game celebration.

Stanford went to the Rose Bowl.

2000: 22 points for Curtis Williams

A week after Washington safety Curtis Williams suffered a spinal cord injury at Stanford that would render him a quadriplegic -- and eventually kill him -- the then-seventh-ranked Huskies overcame a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit with a 22-point scoring barrage.

Running back Willie Hurst, a forgotten man much of the season, posted a pair of highlight-reel TD runs, and quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo scored the winning points from two yards out with 1:10 left.

Washington went on to win the Rose Bowl and finished ranked third in the country.

2001: Pickett's Rally

Washington's sophomore quarterback Cody Pickett slashed three yards for the game-winning touchdown with 13 seconds left as the Huskies posted their 17th fourth-quarter comeback in 22 games with Rick Neuheisel as the head coach.

Funny how things turned out with Neuheisel, eh?

Pickett overcame four interceptions and threw for a school-record 455 yards and three touchdowns.

2002: Reggie leaves the building

Washington receiver Reggie Williams transformed a 10-yard dump into an 80-yard touchdown with just over two minutes remaining to give the Huskies a 32-28 victory.

Williams had 184 yards receiving and three TDs on just eight catches.

That performance, by the way, ended up overshadowing Arizona’s Jason Johnson, who completed 29 of 41 for 443 yards and three touchdowns.

(Remember when 400-yard passing days were fairly routine in the Pac-10?)

2003: Bell rings the Huskies.

Arizona running back Mike Bell rushed for 222 yards—including TD runs of 67, 69 and 37 yards—and Arizona stunned Washington 27-22, snapping the Wildcats streak of 13 consecutive home losses in the Pac-10.

It was the Wildcats only Pac-10 victory in a 2-10 season that featured a team-wide revolt against coach John Mackovic, who was sacked at midseason and replaced by Mike Hankwitz.

The loss cost the Huskies a bowl game, and was the beginning of the end for coach Keith Gilbertson The next weekend, Washington's players clearly quit trying in a 54-7 defeat at California, which set a school record with 729 total yards.

Washington lost 20 of its next 24 games.

2005: Hail Husky!

A year after Arizona coach Mike Stoops earned his first Pac-10 win over Washington, the Huskies return the favor with a shocking 38-14 beatdown that ended a 14-game conference losing streak.

The Huskies entered the game 1-8. Arizona was coming off consecutive victories over Oregon State and UCLA, the latter a 52-14 stomping of the nation's seventh-ranked team.

The game turned when, with Arizona leading 14-7, Huskies quarterback Isaiah Stanback connected with Craig Chambers for a 69-yard touchdown on a Hail Mary pass on the last play of the first half.

Washington then scored 24 unanswered points in the second half while Wildcats quarterback Willie Tuitama threw three interceptions.

2006: The Cautionary Tale

The 2006 game was remarkable for only one thing: When the Huskies won 21-10 and improved to 4-1 and 2-0 in the Pac-10, the overwhelming feeling was the program was back on solid ground under Tyrone Willingham.

The Huskies went 5-27 from then on under Willingham.

2007: The Comeback

Washington led by 15 points with 12:32 left. It wasn't enough.

Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama passed for a school-record 510 yards, and his 27-yard touchdown pass with 2:02 left rallied the Wildcats to a stunning 48-41 victory.

The Wildcats scored 22 points in the fourth to break the Huskies hearts.

And, of course, 2009 might top them all.