UCLA vs. Arizona Football Rivalry: Decades of Gridiron Glory heading to Homecoming

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 12: Head coach Chip Kelly of the UCLA Bruins shakes hands with head coach Jedd Fisch of the Arizona Wildcats after a 34-28 Wildcats win at Rose Bowl on November 12, 2022 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 12: Head coach Chip Kelly of the UCLA Bruins shakes hands with head coach Jedd Fisch of the Arizona Wildcats after a 34-28 Wildcats win at Rose Bowl on November 12, 2022 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The UCLA Bruins and the Arizona Wildcats have forged a historic rivalry on the football field for nearly five decades (47 years), with each clash adding a new chapter to their storied history.

As the Arizona Wildcats and No. 20 ranked UCLA Bruin college football powerhouses prepare to face off once again on Saturday, November 4th, at 7:30 PM in Tucson, Arizona. Let’s take a closer look at their enduring feud, featuring wins, losses, and unforgettable moments.

Dominance and Drama: Decades of Competition

The rivalry between UCLA and Arizona football dates back to the mid-20th century, marked by a series of thrilling encounters that have kept fans on the edge of their seats. Over the 47 years, both teams have had their moments of dominance, and the win-loss records reflect their fierce competition.

UCLA has defeated Arizona 27 times, while Arizona has defeated UCLA 18 times, tying twice. UCLA’s record so far this season is 6-2 with losses to Utah and Oregon State. Arizona’s record is 5-3 and the Wildcats just beat No. 11 Oregon State last Saturday night. This year’s game will be played in Tucson for Homecoming, with both Rob Gronkowski and Khalil Tate (Mr. October) in attendance along with other alumni. The game is winnable.

The UCLA Bruins have historically held the upper hand in this matchup, with several commanding victories. However, the Arizona Wildcats have been known to stage remarkable comebacks and upset their adversaries on several occasions, making the rivalry anything but predictable. For example, Arizona had a five-game winning streak against the Bruins between 2007 and 2011.

Notable Showdowns: Five Greatest Games

According to Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times, the UCLA-Arizona football rivalry has produced unforgettable games that have left a lasting mark on college football history. Here are a few of them with ZoneZealots adding to the list:

Nov. 1, 1980: Arizona 23, No. 2 UCLA 17: Earlier in the day, top-ranked Alabama fell 6-3 against Mississippi State. A win against the Wildcats would allow UCLA to take over first place in the Nation. Arizona junior walk-on punter Sergio Vega’s performance crippled the Bruins. Ricky Hunley, a rookie linebacker for UA at the time, was chosen as the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against UCLA. Hunley had 14 total tackles, 7 of which came about without help, and he lost three catches by getting to UCLA quarterback Tom Ramsey. Arizona delivered one of two UCLA losses that season.

Oct. 9, 1982: Arizona 24, No. 8 UCLA 24 Tie: Bruins’ Comeback – UCLA staged a dramatic comeback in the final minutes to tie Arizona 24-24. The Bruins were 4-0 and the Wildcat 1-2 going into the contest. Arizona intercepted QB Tom Ramsey twice! Kicker Max Zendejas kicked a field goal with 33 seconds on the close (43 yards). Due to a late-hit penalty, the Bruins had a chance to tie the game, down 3 at the time, and John Lee kicked a 36-yard field goal to tie the game with 2 seconds left on the clock. This game was one of the most memorable in the series.

Nov. 12, 1983: Arizona 27, UCLA 24: Wildcats’ Victory – Arizona claimed its victory over UCLA in a thrilling game that ended 27-24 in a squeaker “UCLA quarterback Rick Neuheisel helped move his team into position — Kicker John Lee lined up for a 37-yard field goal, having never missed from that close in his college career. He did this time, the ball floating low and to the left.”

October 20, 2011: Arizona 48, UCLA 12: A fake referee streaker and a brawl in Tucson about sums up the craziness of this game. The Wildcats were up 42-7 at the half. During the game, a fake referee ran into the game as if to gather with the actual officials when a play was whistled dead, then hurried out and took off his clothes. Almost simultaneously, a nasty brawl broke out between the two teams, which spilled onto the playing field from both sidelines. It was impossible to tell where it started because of the pandemonium generated by the streaker.

The brawl lasted only a few minutes before it was broken up and people were expelled. The Bruins sure were frustrated by those Wildcats!

October 14, 2017: Arizona 47, UCLA 30: Arizona Heach Coach Jedd Fish was the UCLA Offensive Coordinator. UCLA gave up 605 yards to the Wildcats. Mr. October, Khalil Tate, did his thing rushing for 230 yards of the 605 yards and two touchdowns. On the flip side, QB Josh Rosen threw three interceptions. UCLA fans were hugely disappointed in their coaching staff and the outcome of the game; Wildcat pounced on them and Arizona had their way with the Bruins.

In Closing:

As the Bruins and Wildcats prepare for their next showdown on November 4th, fans can expect more thrills, intense competition, and perhaps even a few surprises. The UCLA-Arizona football rivalry has endured the test of time, and with each passing year, it adds another layer to its compelling narrative. This will be the last time the two teams compete in the same conference.

Arizona needs to even out the overall record, even if only by one last game which I guess you could assume would be an upset even though Coach Fisch doesn’t want anyone to think Arizona upsets another team, they should win. Wouldn’t it be sweet to beat the No. 20 ranked Bruins at home for Homecoming? Whether you bleed blue and gold or bear the Wildcat colors, this matchup promises to deliver another unforgettable chapter in the history of college football.

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