In 2000 the Cats and Cougars played a three overtime game that saw Arizona win 53-47 in what would be Dick Tomey's final Wildcat win. That game would be Jason Gesser's coming out party, as the Cougar passer threw for what seemed like 1,000 yards. It was also one of the few games where highly recruited running back Leo Mills showed any of the ability he was known for coming out of Humble, TX. The year before saw Arizona win on a last second Hail Mary. Keith Smith threw a last second, desperation pass that Bobby Wade may or may not have caught. The official in the corner ruled it a catch and the Cats won 30-24. To further add to the controversy was the fact that the official was from Tucson.
In 1997 a 2-5 Wildcat team ventured into Pullman and gave the eventual Pac-10 champions all they could handle. The game went into overtime and the Ryan Leaf led Cougars struck first with a touchdown. Arizona matched the score, but decided to go for two, instead of the safer play of kicking the PAT an going to a second OT. The Cats failed to convert and lost 35-34.
In 1992, 1993 and 1994 each game was decided by a fieldgoal. The Cougars won 23-20 in ‘92 and then lost 9-6 and 10-7 the next two years in defensive struggles. The ‘93 contest saw future NFL kicker Jason Hansen miss a late field goal.
In 1990 the Cats won 42-34. The game featured a young Cougar passer named Drew Bledsoe. Bledsoe was not good enough to pull out the win, but he did throw a touchdown pass to himself. The Cougars were inside the Wildcat 20, Bledsoe rolled out but had his pass batted right back at him. He hauled in the deflection and ran in for a touchdown.
There have been numerous other close games. 1978, 1985, 1989, 1995, 1996 and 1999 all saw games decided by 10 points or less.
This has been a crazy series and Saturday's game was no exception. Anyone who thought that the most recent game was going to end in a simple fashion hadn't considered the history of the series. It was a shame that the Wildcats had to lose in the fashion that they did, but it was par for the course in this series.