Arizona (2-8) and ASU (8-2) went into the rivalry game in Tucson seemingly headed in vastly different directions.
Mike Stoops was in his first year as head coach, and while the Cats were surprisingly competitive throughout the season, the lack of talent he inherited from the John Mackovic regime was glaring.
Dirk Koetter was in his fourth year at ASU and led by a record setting quarterback, the Sun Devils appeared on the verge of breaking into the Pac-10’s upper echelon.
The game looked like it would be a blowout early. ASU scored an early touchdown and went into the second quarter with a 10-3 lead. Arizona took control in the second quarter, courtesy of two Richard Kovalcheck touchdown passes and went into the half up three.
The second half was more of the same. Arizona’s bend but don’t break defense allowed ASU to pile up over 500 yards of total offense, but offset those yards by forcing five Sun Devil turnovers en route to a 34-27 victory.
Arizona’s victory was one of the signature wins of the Mike Stoops era. Stoops used the victory as a springboard to bring in one of, if not the best, recruiting classes in school history, highlighted by Willie Tuitama, Mike Thomas and Eben Britton.
ASU went on to win its bowl game, but it can be argued Koetter never recovered from the Arizona loss. Running back Terry Longbons -- from Centennial High School in Peoria and one of Arizona's top recruits-- announced he would attend school in Tucson while the other big name Phoenix prospects left the state.
ASU’s play on the field also suffered and after two middling seasons, Koetter was let go.