1994 Arizona Wildcats football
Arizona Wildcats logo.svg
Freedom Bowl, L 13–16 vs. Utah
ConferencePacific-10 Conference
CoachesNo. 20
APNo. 20
Record8–4 (6–2 Pac-10)
Head coach
Offensive coordinatorDuane Akina (3rd season)
Defensive coordinatorLarry Mac Duff (8th season)
Base defenseDouble Eagle Flex
Home stadiumArizona Stadium
(Capacity: 57,803)
← 1993
1995 →
1994 Pacific-10 Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 11 Oregon $ 7 1 0 9 4 0
No. 13 USC 6 2 0 8 3 1
No. 20 Arizona 6 2 0 8 4 0
No. 21 Washington State 5 3 0 8 4 0
Washington 4 4 0 7 4 0
UCLA 3 5 0 5 6 0
California 3 5 0 4 7 0
Oregon State 2 6 0 4 7 0
Stanford 2 6 0 3 7 1
Arizona State 2 6 0 3 8 0
  • $ – Conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll

The 1994 Arizona Wildcats football team represented University of Arizona during the 1994 NCAA college football season. The offense scored 274 points while the defense allowed 190 points. Under head coach Dick Tomey in his eighth season, the Wildcats completed the season with a record of 8–4 (6–2 against Pac-10 opponents) and lost to Utah in the Freedom Bowl.

With most of their “Desert Swarm” defense returning, Arizona attempted to improve on their successful 1993 season and entered 1994 as contenders for the Rose Bowl.[1] However, those expectations would fall short late in the season, and the Wildcats still managed to earn a winning record and bowl appearance.

Led by the Desert Swarm, the Wildcats finished second behind Virginia in rushing defense, tenth in total defense, and eleventh in scoring defense.[2]

Before the season

The Wildcats concluded the 1993 season with a 10–2 record by sharing the Pac-10 title and winning the Fiesta Bowl. It was their first ten-win season in school history. The team was led by their dominant defense, the Desert Swarm, and led the nation in rushing defensive categories. They also lost out on the Rose Bowl due to a head-to-head loss to UCLA and a second-half collapse at California. Despite the losses, Arizona bounced back and got the Fiesta Bowl bid and shut out Miami, and entered 1994 with hopes of achieving their chances at a potential Rose Bowl spot.

Although the Arizona basketball team’s Final Four run in the spring overshadowed the football team’s success, the Wildcats spent the offseason preparing for the 1994 season and was not only contending for the Rose Bowl, but for a possible national championship.[3] In the preseason poll, the Wildcats earned a ranking of seventh. The team was also featured on the front cover of Sports Illustrated in August and was ranked first in the magazine’s poll.[4]


September 15:00 p.m.at Georgia Tech*No. 7ESPNW 19–1445,112
September 107:00 p.m.New Mexico State*No. 9KTTUW 44–052,889
September 2412:30 p.m.at StanfordNo. 8ABCW 34–1042,593
October 17:00 p.m.Oregon StateNo. 6
  • Arizona Stadium
  • Tucson, AZ
PrimeW 30–1054,245
October 87:00 p.m.No. 23 Colorado State*No. 6
  • Arizona Stadium
  • Tucson, AZ
PrimeL 16–2156,534
October 153:30 p.m.at No. 20 Washington StateNo. 14PrimeW 10–737,600
October 2212:30 p.m.UCLANo. 14
  • Arizona Stadium
  • Tucson, AZ
ABCW 34–2458,817
October 2912:30 p.m.at OregonNo. 11ABCL 9–1036,760
November 54:00 p.m.CaliforniadaggerNo. 18
  • Arizona Stadium
  • Tucson, AZ
PrimeW 13–658,374
November 121:30 p.m.at No. 17 USCNo. 13ABCL 28–4561,264
November 254:00 p.m.Arizona StateNo. 16
ABCW 28–2758,810
December 277:00 p.m.vs. No. 14 Utah*No. 15Raycom/KTTUL 13–1627,477
  • *Non-conference game
  • daggerHomecoming
  • Rankings from AP Poll released prior to the game
  • All times are in Mountain time


1994 Arizona Wildcats football team roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Name Class
TE 88 Mike Lucky Fr
C 75 Hicham El-Mashtoub Sr
QB 16 Dan White Jr
Pos. # Name Class
FS 3 Tony Bouie Sr
DE 68 Tedy Bruschi Jr
LB 35 Chester Burnett So
LB 49 Sean Harris Sr
DT 71 Chuck Osborne Jr
DT 56 Joe Salave'a So
SS 18 Brandon Sanders Jr
CB 22 Mike Scurlock Sr
LB 42 Jimmy Sprotte Fr
LB 37 Armon Williams So
Special teams
Pos. # Name Class
K 28 Steve McLaughlin Sr
Head coach
Coordinators/assistant coaches

  • (C) Team captain
  • (S) Suspended
  • (I) Ineligible
  • Injured
  • Redshirt

Game summaries

Georgia Tech

Arizona kicked off the season with a Thursday night matchup with Georgia Tech. The Wildcats started slow but recovered to take a 10-7 at the break. In the second half, Georgia Tech rallied to regain the lead. Late in the fourth quarter, Arizona drove down the field and scored in the final minute to get the win and avoid a major upset. Tomey said after the game that despite being the season opener, that the victory saved the Wildcats’ season due to them being Rose Bowl contenders, whereas a loss would have likely hurt their chances.[6]

New Mexico State

In their home opener, the Wildcats hosted New Mexico State. The Desert Swarm would dominate the Aggies and Arizona’s offense put up scores to win big.[7] As they did in 1992, Arizona had another shutout and was their third consecutive shutout victory over the Aggies since 1954 (New Mexico State has not scored against Arizona since 1953). The Wildcats’ offense improved from their last game, scoring 44 points against a poor New Mexico State defense and it turned out to be Arizona’s highest number of points scored in a game this season.[8]

Colorado State

Arizona, ranked sixth, hosted Colorado State in another non-conference contest. The Rams would score three touchdowns against the Wildcats’ Desert Swarm. Arizona, however, remained in the game, but their offense struggled at times, and in the end, came up short as Colorado State a big upset and Arizona’s national title hopes vanished for good and fell out of the top ten rankings.[9]

Washington State

On the road at No. 20 Washington State, Arizona attempted to get back to winning after being stunned by Colorado State. The Desert Swarm buzzed around the Cougars’ offense and held them to a single touchdown. Later in the game, the Wildcats scored on a field to lead and the Cougars had one final chance. For the second straight year, Washington State missed a field goal in the final seconds that cost them a tie, leading to a Wildcat win.[10]


The Wildcats returned home for a showdown with UCLA, who defeated Arizona in the previous season that led to both teams sharing the Pac-10 title (along with USC). This season, the result was different. After falling behind early, Arizona stormed back and took control of the game in the second half with a combination of an improved offense and the Desert Swarm to avenge their 1993 loss to the Bruins.[11]


The Wildcats went to Eugene for a big test with Oregon. The Ducks, who, like Arizona, was in the hunt for the Pac-10 title and Rose Bowl. Both teams’ defenses would shut down each other’s offense for most of the game. Arizona led 9-0 at halftime, but would make mistakes in the second half, which allowed Oregon to take the lead by the fourth quarter. The Wildcats tried to threaten late, but their drive stalled and the Ducks held on for the single-point victory. The loss seemingly jeopardized the Wildcats’ Rose Bowl chances, but they were still in the hunt for it.[12]


For homecoming weekend, the Wildcats faced California, who came back to beat Arizona in 1993 that cost the Wildcats a shot at the Rose Bowl. A dominant performance by the Desert Swarm would keep Arizona in the game. In the second quarter, Cal threatened in Arizona territory near the goal, but the Swarm came up big by foiling a trick play by forcing an interception and returned it 97 yards for a touchdown. The Wildcats would add a pair of field goals to lead 13-6. Late in the fourth quarter, the Golden Bears had a chance, but Arizona’s defense would again stop them with a pair of sacks, and Arizona got revenge for their loss to the Bears in the previous year, and also kept their Rose Bowl hopes alive.[13] The returned interception was Arizona’s only touchdown of the game and it was also their second consecutive game without an offensive score.


Arizona went back on the road to travel to Southern California and faced the Trojans. USC’s offense became a problem for Arizona’s Desert Swarm, and was too much for them. The Wildcats finally got some offensive touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough and USC dropped Arizona to third in the Pac-10 standings, which ended the Wildcats’ Rose Bowl hopes.[14]

Arizona State

See also: Arizona-Arizona State football rivalry

In the annual “Duel in the Desert”, the Wildcats hosted Arizona State. The Desert Swarm gave the Sun Devils problems early, though Arizona’s offense would have drives stalled, which led to field goals. ASU would later grab momentum and led 27-15 early in the fourth quarter.

The Wildcats would pick up rhythm on offense and got a touchdown to climb closer midway through the quarter. After making a stop by the Swarm, Arizona would get the ball back and found the end zone for another touchdown to regain the lead with under four minutes to go. Arizona State would then have one last chance, and drove into Wildcat territory. However, they would barely miss a field goal by inches that would have potentially given them the win. Instead, the Wildcats got their first win over ASU at home since 1990.[15][16][17] It was the Arizona’s largest comeback win the rivalry since 1985 (when they rallied from ten down to win that year).[18][19] It also gave the Wildcats their eighth win of the season.

Utah (Freedom Bowl)

Main article: 1994 Freedom Bowl

See also: 1994 Utah Utes football team

Arizona was selected to play in the Freedom Bowl in Anaheim against Utah. The Wildcats would get off to an early start and scored first. Utah tied it early in the second quarter and the game remained tied until the fourth quarter when Arizona connected on a field goal to take the lead. The Desert Swarm would the force a turnover and Arizona was in position to take control. However, mistakes and dropped passes led to another field goal, which kept the Utes in it. After getting a safety later in the quarter, Utah drove down the field and scored to get the lead. The Wildcats tried to respond, but would lose a fumble and Utah would run out the clock for the win. Arizona’s season ended with a record of 8–4.[20][21]

Awards and honors

Season notes

Team players drafted into the NFL

Player Position Round Pick NFL Club
Steve McLaughlin Kicker 3 82 St. Louis Rams
Sean Harris Linebacker 3 83 Chicago Bears
Mike Scurlock Defensive back 5 140 St. Louis Rams
Hicham El-Mashtoub Center 6 174 Houston Oilers


  1. ^ "Cats enter '94 season hoping for elusive Rose Bowl spot". Arizona Daily Star. August 16, 1994.
  2. ^ "Despite 8–4 record, Wildcats' defense was still dominant in '94". Arizona Daily Star. January 11, 1995.
  3. ^ "UA football enter 1994 season with high hopes, proving Desert Swarm is for real". The Arizona Republic. August 28, 1994.
  4. ^ "Arizona football gets featured in Sports Illustrated, gets magazine's top ranking". Arizona Daily Star. August 30, 1994.
  5. ^ DeLassus, David. "Arizona Yearly Results: 1990–1994". College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on 2012-01-09. Retrieved March 14, 2013.
  6. ^ "Wildcats rally late, edge Georgia Tech in season opener". Tucson Citizen. September 2, 1994.
  7. ^ "Arizona plows through Aggies". Arizona Daily Star. September 11, 1994.
  8. ^ "Roll the Dice: WR's two TDs leads Cats' offense in win over NMSU". Tucson Citizen. September 11, 1994.
  9. ^ "Rams shackle No. 6 Arizona". Arizona Daily Star. October 9, 1994.
  10. ^ "Washington State falls to Arizona again after missed kick". The Spokesman-Review. October 16, 1994.
  11. ^ "Wildcat offense answers call; UA rallies past UCLA in 2nd half". Arizona Daily Star. October 23, 1994.
  12. ^ "Oregon clips Arizona, endangers Wildcats' Pac-10 hopes". The Arizona Republic. October 31, 1994.
  13. ^ "UA stumbles to win over Cal". Arizona Daily Star. November 7, 1994.
  14. ^ "UA draws a blank in shootout; Rose Bowl no longer possible". Arizona Daily Star. November 13, 1994.
  15. ^ "Arizona triumphs by inches; Missed FG preserves UA victory". Arizona Daily Star. November 26, 1994.
  16. ^ "Cats stray, then win". Tucson Citizen. November 26, 1994.
  17. ^ "UA erases 4th deficit, stuns ASU; Devils miss kick in final seconds". The Arizona Republic. November 26, 1994.
  18. ^ "Arizona comes back against ASU, barely holds on for win". Arizona Daily Wildcat. November 28, 1994.
  19. ^ "Disaster in the Desert: ASU blows 4th quarter lead vs. UA, loses on late missed kick". The State Press. November 28, 1994.
  20. ^ "Cats drop Freedom Bowl, 16–13". Arizona Daily Star. December 28, 1994.
  21. ^ "Let Freedom Ring: Utah edges Arizona in bowl". The Salt Lake Tribune. December 28, 1994.
  22. ^ "A Wildcat football dynasty in the making? Most UA fans say so". Tucson Citizen. July 25, 1994.
  23. ^ "With football team's Rose Bowl dreams gone, UA fans turn attention to basketball". Arizona Daily Wildcat. November 15, 1994.
  24. ^ "Wildcat fans still support football despite basketball success". Arizona Daily Star. November 29, 1994.
  25. ^ "Who are the greatest kickers in UA football history?". Arizona Daily Wildcat. August 27, 2015.