SAN ANTONIO, TX – Overcoming an 11-point deficit, No. 14 Arizona Football (10-3, 7-2) rallied to beat the No. 12 Oklahoma Sooners (10-3, 7-2).
Job finished! The confetti rained down inside the Alamodome as No. 14 Arizona Football capped off its miraculous 2023 run by beating No. 12 Oklahoma and ending its season with 10 wins, the most since the 2014 season.
Despite being outgained 562 yards to 383 and trailing by as many as 11 points, the Wildcats'
opportunistic defense ended up being the difference in this one as they forced six turnovers and held Oklahoma to just 24 points.
While the offensive performance wasn't one of its better ones this season for Arizona, the Wildcats still scored 38 points (six coming from a pick-six).
Arizona ran for just a paltry 29 yards (Noah Fifita was -35) and a touchdown; however, it was Noah's resilience that helped propel the Cats. Despite being sacked five times, Noah completed 24-38 passes for 354 yards and two touchdowns with just one interception.
Receivers Tetairoia McMillan and Jacob Cowing finished with 160 and 152 yards receiving respectively on a combined 17 pass catches, meanwhile Cowing caught both touchdown receptions on the evening.
No. 12 Oklahoma erased a 13-0 lead from No. 14 Arizona Football but luckily, the Wildcats stood tall in the end to win.
Playing in its first bowl action since the 2017 season, No. 14 Arizona looked great from the start as the Wildcats scored three points on its opening drive of the game to take a 3-0 lead.
On the ensuing possession, Oklahoma's freshman quarterback Jackson Arnold threw an interception that was picked off by Genesis Smith, giving the Cats great field position.
One play later, Noah connected with Jacob Cowing from 35 yards to put Arizona up 10-0 after Tyler Loop's extra point.
Leading comfortably, Arizona would hold Oklahoma to a quick three-and-out, followed by another interception which set up Noah and the Cats again. The Wildcats responded in kind, answering with a 12-play, 45-yard drive that ended in a 38-yard field goal from Loop to make it 13-0 Cats with 13;05 to play in the half.
But unfortunately, that is when Arizona's offense went ice cold. Struggling to keep Noah upright (perhaps still adjusting to Jordan Morgan not playing), the offense would stall for the remainder of the second quarter as Oklahoma climbed back in, answering with two touchdown drives before the half to take a 14-13 lead.
Needing some sort of spark, unfortunately, the Wildcats' woes would continue well into the third quarter as Oklahoma opened the second half with a 63-yard touchdown pass from Arnold to Brenen Thompson to make it 21-13.
On their ensuing drive, Oklahoma would score again, this time driving 84 yards on 12 plays that ended in a 22-yard field from Zach Schmit to make it 24-13 in favor of the Sooners.
With its backs against the wall and Oklahoma driving yet again, finally, Arizona found its spark! Facing 2nd and 10 at Arizona's 23, Jackson Arnold would drop back to pass, but after an errant throw that was "fumbled", Gunner Maldonado was there to secure the ball, scampering 87 yards for a touchdown.
Noah would connect with Montana Lemonious-Craig on the ensuing play to successfully convert the two-point conversion. Arizona trailed 24-21 at the point.
On its next drive, Oklahoma would turn the ball over again, this time as Martell Irby picked off Arnold, setting up Noah and the offense who responded in kind as they set up Loop yet again, who connected from 37 yards to make it 24-24 with 12:49.
Momentum officially swung!
Arizona would hold Oklahoma's offense once again, forcing a punt from the Sooners that would give the Cats the ball once again.
After failing to produce a touchdown since the first quarter, Arizona's offense finally came to life! Facing a 3rd and 8 at their 43-yard line, Noah rolled to his right and connected with Cowing who raced 57 yards into the endzone as he helped put the Cats back in front at 31-24 after Loop converted the extra point.
Not done, Arizona's defense forced Oklahoma into a 3rd and 20 where they then forced Arnold to fumble the ball as Jacob Kongaika recovered, setting up the Wildcats' offense deep in Oklahoma territory.
One play later, Arizona's rushing attack found its groove as DJ Williams ran 19 yards into the endzone to make it 38-24 in favor of the Cats.
Leading by 14 with 2:56 to play, the Sooners were unable to respond as Arizona eventually went on to win the Alamo Bowl by a 38-24 final!
With the victory, the Wildcats end the season 10-3 (7-2), its best mark since the 2014 season when Arizona lost to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl.
Jedd Fisch and the Wildcats will now turn its focus to the off-season and preparing for the programs' transition to the Big 12 Conference.