1992 Arizona Wildcats football
Arizona Wildcats logo.svg
John Hancock Bowl, L 15–20 vs. Baylor
ConferencePacific-10 Conference
Record6–5–1 (4–3–1 Pac-10)
Head coach
Offensive coordinatorDuane Akina (1st season)
Defensive coordinatorLarry Mac Duff (6th season)
Home stadiumArizona Stadium
← 1991
1993 →
1992 Pacific-10 Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 11 Washington + 6 2 0 9 3 0
No. 9 Stanford + 6 2 0 10 3 0
No. 15 Washington State 5 3 0 9 3 0
USC 5 3 0 6 5 1
Arizona 4 3 1 6 5 1
Arizona State 4 4 0 6 5 0
Oregon 4 4 0 6 6 0
UCLA 3 5 0 6 5 0
California 2 6 0 4 7 0
Oregon State 0 7 1 1 9 1
  • + – Conference co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll

The 1992 Arizona Wildcats football team represented the University of Arizona in the Pacific-10 Conference (Pac-10) during the 1992 NCAA Division I-A football season. In their sixth season under head coach Dick Tomey, the Wildcats compiled a 6–5–1 record (4–3–1 against Pac-10 opponents), finished in fifth place in the Pac-10, lost to Baylor in the 1992 John Hancock Bowl, and outscored their opponents, 232 to 118. The defense allowed an average of 9.8 points per game, second best in Division I-A.[1][2] The team played its home games in Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Arizona.

The team's statistical leaders included George Malauulu with 1,210 passing yards, Ontiwaun Carter with 739 rushing yards, and Troy Dickey with 395 receiving yards.[3] Linebacker Sean Harris led the team with 71 tackles.[4]

Although despite having an average record, Arizona’s season featured a major upset win over top-ranked Washington in early November with a dominant defense, and was known as the program’s biggest victory and the defense’s performance began an era known to fans as the “Desert Swarm”.[5]


September 57:00 p.m.Utah State*KTTUW 49–337,239
September 127:00 p.m.Washington State
  • Arizona Stadium
  • Tucson, AZ
PrimeL 20–2339,112
September 197:00 p.m.at Oregon StateT 14–1425,107
September 269:30 a.m.at No. 1 Miami (FL)*PPVL 7–847,049
October 37:00 p.m.No. 11 UCLA
  • Arizona Stadium
  • Tucson, AZ
PrimeW 23–350,708
October 1712:30 p.m.at No. 8 StanfordABCW 21–647,217
October 241:00 p.m.at CaliforniaNo. 21PrimeW 24–1746,000
October 317:00 p.m.New Mexico State*No. 17
  • Arizona Stadium
  • Tucson, AZ
KTTUW 30–038,463
November 71:30 p.m.No. 1 WashingtondaggerNo. 12
  • Arizona Stadium
  • Tucson, AZ
ABCW 16–358,510
November 142:30 p.m.at No. 18 USCNo. 9PrimeL 7–1453,849
November 217:30 p.m.Arizona StateNo. 16
PrimeL 6–758,095
December 3112:30 p.m.vs. Baylor*No. 22CBSL 15–2041,622
  • *Non-conference game
  • daggerHomecoming
  • Rankings from AP Poll released prior to the game
  • All times are in Mountain time

Sources: 2012 Florida Football Media Guide,[6] and GatorZone.com.[7]

Game summaries

Oregon State

Arizona went to Oregon State to face the Beavers. The defenses of both teams would slow down each other’s offenses on its way to a tie, which evened up the Wildcats’ record at 1–1–1.[8]

Miami (FL)

The Wildcats went east to south Florida to take on top-ranked Miami. Arizona’s offense played poor and their defense shut down the Hurricanes’ powerful offense to stay in the game. In the final minute of the fourth quarter, the Wildcats had a chance to potentially win with a field goal, but narrowly missed and Miami escaped a major upset bid by the Wildcats.[9]


After losing a heartbreaker at Miami, Arizona returned home to host 11th-ranked UCLA. The Wildcats’ defense slowed the Bruins and the offense improved enough to get the win.[10]


The Wildcats went back on the road and visited Stanford, who was ranked eighth. Again, Arizona’s defense took care of business by shutting down Stanford for another win.[11]

New Mexico State

Arizona faced New Mexico State for a Halloween matchup.[12] This was the first game between the two teams since 1954. The Wildcats would show the Aggies why their defense was one of the best in the nation by holding them scoreless in a shutout victory.[13][14]


On homecoming day, Arizona took on Washington. It was the second top-ranked opponent that the Wildcats faced in the season. Arizona counted on their dominant defense and slowed down the Huskies’ high-powered offense all game long. Late in the fourth quarter, Arizona scored the game’s only touchdown to break it open and pulled off the huge upset which stunned the college football world.[15][16] Wildcat fans rushed the field as time expired and tore down the goal posts and set off wild celebrations across Tucson that lasted into the evening.[17] It was also Arizona’s fifth consecutive win and ended the Huskies’ hopes for a second consecutive national championship. Washington, however, went on to share the Pac-10 title with Stanford and went to the Rose Bowl due to their head-to-head win over the Cardinal.

It was the Wildcats’ first win over a top-ranked team since 1981, when they stunned USC on the road. The win also erased memories of Arizona’s loss to Miami earlier in the season.[18][19] Days after the game, Arizona moved up the rankings into the top ten.[20]


Fresh off after their big upset over Washington, the Wildcats hoped to continue building their momentum and traveled to USC at the Coliseum and was ranked in the top ten (USC was 18th). Arizona’s defense was again solid, holding the Trojans in check for most of the game. However, the Wildcat offense continued to be mediocre, which led to a low-scoring matchup and would keep USC within distance with the Wildcats ahead 7–6. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Trojans drove into Arizona territory and scored a touchdown and a two-point conversion to take a 14–7 lead. The Wildcats tried to respond, but came up empty and USC held on for the victory and snapped Arizona’s winning streak at five.[21]

Arizona State

In the regular season finale, Arizona hosted Arizona State in the rivalry game. For most of the game, ASU had no answer against the Wildcats’ menacing defense. Arizona mustered only a pair of field goals and was pitching a shutout in the first three quarters and was seemingly in position to earn the rivalry’s first shutout since 1974.

However, early in the fourth quarter. Arizona State ran a running play and ran past the Wildcats’ defense for a long touchdown for a 7–6 lead. Arizona threatened late, but missed a field goal that would have regained the lead, and Arizona State held on to upset the Wildcats.[22][23] It was the Wildcats’ first home loss to ASU since 1980 and ASU fans referred to the winning touchdown as “The Run”.[24]

Despite the loss, the Wildcats were still assured of a bowl appearance with a 6–4–1 record.

Baylor (John Hancock Bowl)

Main article: 1992 John Hancock Bowl

See also: 1992 Baylor Bears football team

Arizona was invited to play in the John Hancock Bowl against Baylor in El Paso. The Wildcats held a 13–7 lead at halftime, led by their great defense, which they been all season. In the second half, the Bears took advantage and took the lead. Arizona’s offense would then do nothing and only scored a safety, but were still in the game. Baylor would stop Arizona on their final drive to win it and the Wildcats ended the season with three straight losses.[25]

Awards and honors

Season notes

After the season

Arizona and the “Desert Swarm” would began a run of dominance and set the stage for a remarkable 1993 season that saw them win ten games at the peak of Arizona’s success.[35] It also would lead to the Wildcats being contenders for the Rose Bowl for the early-to-mid part of the decade.[36]


  1. ^ "1992 Arizona Wildcats Schedule and Results". SR/College Football. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  2. ^ "Arizona Football 2016 Media Guide" (PDF). University of Arizona. 2016. p. 108. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  3. ^ "1992 Arizona Wildcats Stats". SR/College Football. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  4. ^ 2016 Media Guide, p. 86.
  5. ^ "Win over Washington was best moment of Wildcats' 1992 season; Team's defense had total domination". Arizona Daily Wildcat. January 13, 1993.
  6. ^ 2012 Florida Football Media Guide Archived May 27, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, University Athletic Association, Gainesville, Florida, pp. 114 & 116 (2012). Retrieved September 16, 2012.
  7. ^ GatorZone.com, Football, History, Florida Football 2010 Archived 2015-01-22 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  8. ^ "Cats, Beavers play to 14–14 tie". Arizona Daily Star. September 20, 1992.
  9. ^ "UA inches away from huge upset". Arizona Daily Star. September 27, 1992.
  10. ^ "Wildcats shut down Bruins with defense". Tucson Citizen. October 4, 1992.
  11. ^ "Wildcats' defense does it again, shuts down No. 8 Stanford". Arizona Daily Wildcat. October 19, 1992.
  12. ^ "Wildcats host New Mexico State on Halloween for tricks and treats". Arizona Daily Wildcat. October 29, 1992.
  13. ^ "Cats plow through outmanned Aggies; Arizona was a terror on Halloween night". Arizona Daily Star. November 1, 1992.
  14. ^ "New Mexico St. gets shut out in Arizona's haunted house". Albuquerque Journal. November 1, 1992.
  15. ^ "Desert Swarm engulfs Washington". Arizona Daily Star. November 8, 1992.
  16. ^ "Wildcats shut down top-ranked Washington for massive upset". The Arizona Republic. November 8, 1992.
  17. ^ "Go Crazy, Tucson: Wildcats shock Washington for huge upset". Tucson Citizen. November 8, 1992.
  18. ^ "Wildcats pull off unthinkable, upset No. 1 Huskies". Arizona Daily Wildcat. November 9, 1992.
  19. ^ "Upset of Washington eases pain of Cats' loss to Miami". Arizona Daily Star. November 9, 1992.
  20. ^ "Wildcats jump to top ten after big upset". Arizona Daily Wildcat. November 10, 1992.
  21. ^ "No. 18 Trojans overcome Arizona's defense, comes through late for huge win". Los Angeles Times. November 15, 1992.
  22. ^ "ASU gets big TD run, hold off UA". The Arizona Republic. November 22, 1992.
  23. ^ "Sun Devils swat down the Swarm". Arizona Daily Star. November 22, 1992.
  24. ^ "'The Run' leads Devils to big upset of UA". The State Press. November 23, 1992.
  25. ^ "Cats fall to Baylor in John Hancock Bowl". Tucson Citizen. January 1, 1993.
  26. ^ "A 'Desert Swarm'? Wildcats' defense has been dominant so far this season". Arizona Daily Star. October 18, 1992.
  27. ^ "Tomey named Pac-10 coach of the year". Arizona Daily Star. December 3, 1992.
  28. ^ "Arizona football to debut blue pants for road games this season". Tucson Citizen. July 3, 1992.
  29. ^ "UA-Miami game to be available via pay-per-view for Arizona viewers". Arizona Daily Star. September 25, 1992.
  30. ^ "Don't except Wildcat football to beat another No. 1 team like Washington anytime soon due to difficulty". Arizona Daily Wildcat. November 10, 1992.
  31. ^ "1992 upset over Washington rated the greatest win in Wildcat football history". Arizona Daily Star. August 13, 2017.
  32. ^ "Arizona, USC playing in 'Smith Bowl' since 1987; Ex-UA coach has upper hand against Tomey". Arizona Daily Star. November 12, 1992.
  33. ^ "USC dismisses ex-UA coach Smith after six seasons". Arizona Daily Star. December 31, 1992.
  34. ^ "How did Wildcat football lose at the end of the '92 season?". Arizona Daily Wildcat. January 12, 1993.
  35. ^ "Wildcats 'Desert Swarm' will be dominant in 1993 season". Tucson Citizen. April 25, 1993.
  36. ^ "Can Arizona football contend for a Rose Bowl?". Arizona Daily Wildcat. August 25, 1993.