|1989 Arizona Wildcats football|
Copper Bowl champion
|1989 record||8–4 (5–3 Pac-10)|
|Offensive coordinator||Rip Scherer (2nd season)|
|Defensive coordinator||Larry Mac Duff (3rd season)|
|Home stadium||Arizona Stadium|
|1989 Pacific-10 Conference football standings|
|No. 8 USC $||6||–||0||–||1||9||–||2||–||1|
|No. 23 Washington||5||–||3||–||0||8||–||4||–||0|
|No. 25 Arizona||5||–||3||–||0||8||–||4||–||0|
Rankings from AP Poll
The 1989 Arizona Wildcats football team represented University of Arizona during the 1989 NCAA Division I-A football season. The offense scored 248 points while the defense allowed 178 points. Led by head coach Dick Tomey in his third season, the Wildcats played to an 8–4 record (5–3 in Pac-10) and participated in the first Copper Bowl which, ironically, was held at their home stadium. The Wildcats defeated North Carolina State in the bowl game.
Arizona had completed the 1988 season with a 7–4 record, but missed out on a bowl game (likely due to losing to ranked teams as well as fewer bowls at the time). Fans believed that Tomey was building the team to success and the Wildcats entered 1989 with high expectations. The team earned a top-20 ranking in the preseason.
|September 2||Stanford||No. 18||KMSB||W 19–3||48,712|
|September 9||at Texas Tech*||No. 20||Prime||L 14–24||35,940|
|September 16||No. 6 Oklahoma*||Prime||W 6–3||50,931|
|September 23||No. 11 Washington||No. 23||Prime||W 20–17||50,935|
|September 30||at Oregon||No. 17||Prime||L 10–16||39,631|
|October 14||No. 22 UCLA||ABC||W 42–7||51,562|
|October 21||at No. 15 Washington State||No. 22||Prime||W 23–21||36,090|
|October 28||Pacific (CA)*||No. 17||KMSB||W 38–14||46,449|
|November 4||at California||No. 15||Prime||L 28–29||29,000|
|November 11||No. 9 USC||No. 25||ABC||L 3–24||52,606|
|November 25||at Arizona State||ESPN||W 28–10||74,926|
|December 31||vs. NC State*||TBS||W 17–10||37,237|
The Wildcats (ranked 20th) visited Texas Tech for their first road game of the season after winning against Stanford to start the year. The Red Raiders were fired up in front of their home crowd and outplayed Arizona with a rushing attack for the upset victory.
Arizona battled sixth-ranked Oklahoma in a home showdown. The game was mostly dominated by the defenses of both teams and led to the Wildcats and Sooners each scoring a single field goal. Late in the fourth quarter, Arizona drove into Sooner territory, and drilled a field goal in the closing seconds for a 6–3 upset victory and avenging the Wildcats’ loss to the Sooners in the previous season. This remains the most recent meeting to date between Arizona and Oklahoma.
Riding high on their momentum after upsetting Oklahoma, the Wildcats faced off against Washington (ranked 11th). For the second game in a row, Arizona took its opponent down to the finish. They held the Huskies in check throughout most of the contest and scored a field goal as time expired to get the win. It was the Wildcats’ second consecutive win over Washington that ended on a winning kick and their first win over the Huskies at home. Also, it was the second consecutive week that Arizona won against a ranked opponent with a last-second field goal.
After losing at Oregon, Arizona hosted UCLA (ranked 22nd). The Wildcats’ offense was too much for the Bruins, and Tomey picked up his first victory over them.
The Wildcats traveled to Pullman for a top-25 showdown against 15th-ranked Washington State. Arizona did enough to narrowly defeat the Cougars.
Arizona traveled to Berkeley to visit California and paid their respects in the wake of the earthquake disaster that rocked the Bay Area and the nation three weeks prior. An emotional Golden Bears team would rally from behind and barely got past the 15th-ranked Wildcats. The loss ended all chances of contention for a potential Rose Bowl berth for Arizona.
On homecoming day, the Wildcats hosted ninth-ranked USC and former Arizona coach Larry Smith. Arizona was no match for the Trojans’ big talent and only managed one field goal against them in a loss and Tomey was outcoached by Smith yet again. USC clinched the Pac-10 title and Rose Bowl berth with the win and prevented Arizona from getting a perfect home record.
See also: Arizona-Arizona State football rivalry
To conclude the regular season, Arizona took a trip to Arizona State for the rivalry game. In an attempt to change their fortunes against the Wildcats, the Sun Devils wore gold jerseys in the game, making their uniforms all gold.
However, in the game, ASU's uniform change didn't help any matters, as the Wildcats overcame an early deficit and dominated the second half on their way to yet another win to extend their dominance over ASU.
Wildcat players reacted to Arizona State's gold uniforms by calling them “bananas”. After the game, perhaps due to the loss, ASU decided that they would likely never wear the gold jerseys again for the foreseeable future, although they would wear them one last time in 1990 in a loss to USC. In 2021, ASU would bring back the gold jerseys in a home win over Colorado and would completely wear all-gold against USC later that year.
Main article: 1989 Copper Bowl
See also: 1989 NC State Wolfpack football team
The Wildcats played in their first bowl game under Tomey. In the inaugural Copper Bowl that was held at their home stadium, Arizona faced NC State. In front of a raucous crowd that mostly Arizona fans, the Wildcats narrowly got past the Wolfpack in a low-scoring affair. The game was played on New Year's Eve and on the final day of the 1980s before turning to the 1990s. Also, the Copper Bowl was Arizona's first bowl win in the Tomey era.
Further information: 1989 NCAA Division I-A football rankings
|Chris Singleton||Linebacker||1||8||New England Patriots|
|Anthony Smith||Defensive end||1||11||Los Angeles Raiders|
|Glenn Parker||Tackle||3||69||Buffalo Bills|
|John Nies||Punter||6||154||Buffalo Bills|
|Donnie Salum||Linebacker||10||250||Atlanta Falcons|