BYU Football: Reviewing the Cougars’ recent history with Arizona

Stephanie Rhodes
BYU’s Eathyn Manumaleuna squares up against Arizona’s offensive line on Sept. 1, 2007. BYU last beat the Wildcats in the 2007 season opener. (Stephanie Rhodes)

The light at the end of the long, dark tunnel that is football’s offseason is finally peeking into view now that we’re only days away from BYU vs. Arizona.

Before we look ahead to Glendale, here’s a look back at the recent history in the series between the Wildcats and Cougars, who have met each other three times over the last 10 years.

Sept. 2, 2006: BYU 13 Arizona 16 

Arizona kicker Nick Folk delivered BYU fans a swift kick below the belt when he connected on a game-winning 48-yard field goal with one second remaining to beat the Cougars 16-13 in Tucson.

The game was very much a defensive struggle from start to finish, with both offenses combining to convert on only 6-of-26 third downs. Senior quarterback John Beck threw for 289 yards and a touchdown in the loss.

Adding insult to injury was the fact that Pac 10 officials stood by and watched Arizona’s Cam Nelson nearly take the head off of Nate Meikle in an obvious cheap shot, considered calling a penalty for kick-catch interference, then did what basically amounted to shrugging their shoulders while saying, “Eh.”

The explanation for why no penalty was called argued that the Arizona defender was blocked by a BYU player into the returner. So I guess it was Ben Criddle who made the Nelson lower his helmet and violently strike Meikle below his chinstrap before the ball had landed.

But at least the officials called the game consistent both ways and held onto their flags during BYU’s so-called “ticky-tack” penalties … wait, actually they really didn’t do that all.

Sept. 1, 2007: BYU 20 Arizona 7

BYU took revenge the following year during the 2007 season opener by bludgeoning the Wildcat offense in a dominant 20-7 victory in Provo. Sophomore signal caller Max Hall was impressive in his college debut, completing 26-of-39 pass attempts for 288 yards and two touchdowns.

Arizona failed to register on the scoreboard until 53 seconds remaining in the game — well after the final outcome had been secured.

The win extended the Cougars’ overall winning streak to 11 games, dating back to the 2006 season.

Dec. 20, 2008: BYU 21 Arizona 31

The last time these two faced each other was at Sam Boyd Stadium for the 2008 Las Vegas Bowl. The No. 17 ranked Cougars proved no match for Arizona’s passing attack, led by senior quarterback Willie Tuitama, who torched the BYU defense for 325 yards and two touchdowns passing and added another score on the ground.

BYU receivers Austin Collie and Michael Reed did their best to keep the Cougars hanging tough, together combining to bring in 20 passes for 236 yards, but five turnovers ultimately doomed BYU’s bid for a third-straight Vegas Bowl win.

Full series record vs. Arizona: 9-12-1 (1-2 since 2006)

BYU vs. Arizona (at University of Phoenix Stadium) Sept. 3 8:30 P.M. (MDT), FS1

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