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nal week of the regular season. UCLA had plenty of in-conference competition both years, though. In 1997, Washington State came out of nowhere and earned a selection to the Rose Bowl, then nearly upended undefeated Michigan behind quarterback Ryan Leaf.


In 1998, it was Arizona that chal- lenged the Bruins. The Wildcats put to- gether a strong season under coach Dick Tomey back in 1993, going 10–2—future NFL star Tedy Bruschi had a school-


FOOTBALL FACT


95 NCAA


Postgraduate Scholarship Winners


record 19 sacks for the “Desert Swarm” defense—and stomping Miami 29–0 in the Fiesta Bowl. Tomey’s ’98 team was even better. Ari- zona fi nished 12–1 that year and was ranked No. 4 after beating Ne- braska 23– corner -


20 in the Holiday Bowl. Shutdown back Chris McAlister preserved


Tedy Bruschi “It would have been an injustice if one team was shut out,” said


Miami’s Dennis Erickson, who later would win Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors at Washington State, Oregon State, and Arizona State. The Sun Devils were back on top in 1996, coming within 19 sec- onds of an undefeated season before falling to Ohio State 20–17 in the Rose Bowl. The star of the show that year was icy-cool quar- terback Jake Plummer, who passed for 2,575 yards and 24 touch- downs.


FOOTBALL FACT


Rhodes Scholars


9


But the most-revered Sun Devil remains then-junior linebacker Pat Tillman. He would be at the height of a successful NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals when the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, drew him into military service. Tillman became an Army Ranger and was killed by friendly fi re in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004, during his second tour of duty. After ASU’s Rose Bowl run, UCLA be- came a national contender in 1997 and 1998. The ’98 squad, with Cade McNown at quarterback, was undefeated before being upset by Miami, 49–45, in the fi -


27


that victory with two intercep- tions and a blocked fi eld goal.


Oregon thought it was headed to the na- tional championship game in 2001—the showdown hap- pened to be at the Rose Bowl, on the game’s 100th anniversary— but was ambushed by rival Oregon State in a driving rainstorm and then snubbed as the BCS formula settled on Nebraska. The Ducks wound up ranked No. 2.


That year also began a nice three- year run for Washington State, which won 10 games and ranked ninth or 10th each season from 2001 to 2003. The Cougars played in the Rose Bowl following the ’02 season, on the strength of an overtime victory over USC, but lost to Oklahoma in Pasadena. After that loss to WSU in


Pat Tillman


Eugene Garcia/Getty Images


AP Photo/Paul Sakuma


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