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The bowl-eligible Arizona Wildcats had another historic performance with their convincing 59-37 win at Washington State today, but the most important achievement is still in the balance tonight.
The 15th-ranked Wildcats, 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the Pac-12, have achieved a significant plateau heading into November for the first time since 1994: They are tied for first place in the loss column in the conference standings.
If Utah beats USC in Salt Lake City tonight, the Wildcats will regain control of their own destiny after the Trojans (5-2, 4-1) beat them two weeks ago in Tucson. No. 25 UCLA (6-2 and 3-2) will host the Wildcats next Saturday in one of the most significant games in Arizona’s Pac-10/12 existence.
Arizona set up the meaningful game, which merits ESPN College GameDay consideration, by taking care of business against Washington State from the outset.
Notre Dame transfer Davonte’ Neal returned a punt 81 yards for touchdown in the first quarter to open Arizona’s scoring. One of Arizona’s last scores was a 44-yard onside-kick return for a touchdown by Cayleb Jones in the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats built a 31-0 lead in the second quarter behind the passing of redshirt fresman Anu Solomon and defensive pressure placed on Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday by sophomore linebacker Scooby Wright.
They withstood a semi-rally that enabled the Cougars to cut the lead to 31-16 at halftime.
Solomon: His five touchdown passes — to five different receivers — increased his season total to 20, breaking the Arizona freshman mark of 19 established by Ortege Jenkins in 1997. Solomon completed 26 of 38 passes for 294 without an interception. He has attempted 136 straight passes without an interception.
1994 PAC-10 STANDINGS
HEADING INTO NOVEMBER
Before games of Nov. 5, 1994
2014 PAC-10 SOUTH STANDINGS
After UA’s win over Washington State
Wright: His three sacks give him nine for the season, which is only 5.5 sacks shy of Tedy Bruschi’s school record set in 1995. Wright also forced three fumbles, giving him five in that category this season.
Terris Jones-Grigsby: Finished with 107 yards on only 13 carries, an average of 8.2 yards per carry. Jones-Grigsby and freshman Nick Wilson have combined for 998 yards rushing this season.
Jared Tevis: The CDO product, a safety, led the team with 13.5 tackles, including 3.5 for lost yardage.
Cameron Denson: The Salpointe Catholic graduate playing at cornerback achieved his first career interception.
Austin Hill: His acrobatic touchdown reception — managing to get a foot inbounds — early in the third quarter after being forced out of bounds allowed the Wildcats to regain their momentum. Hill averaged 15.8 yards in his four receptions.