Second in a two-part look at the 1998 Arizona football team that finished with a school-record 12 wins and No. 4 national ranking.
(From the 1999 Arizona Football Media Guide)
Holiday Bowl: Arizona 23, Nebraska 20
Fourth Quarter Drives Help Cats Beat Huskers
SAN DIEGO - Arizona's defense held the storied Nebraska option rushing attack to 87 net yards and the No. 5-ranked Wildcats cranked up some tough-go rushing of their own to score 14 fourth-quarter points to beat the No. 14 Cornhuskers, 23-20, in the 21st annual Culligan Holiday Bowl before a bowl-record crowd of 65,354 at Qualcomm Stadium.
The Cats earned enough acclaim through their efforts in the most watched of any college bowl game in ESPN history to earn a final No. 4 ranking.
All-America Chris McAlister cemented his reputation by intercepting two passes, one of which turned the Huskers back on their final comeback try with less than four minutes remaining.
Arizona trailed 13-9 at the half and both teams struggled through five possessions in the third quarter before UA's 10-play scoring drive. Keith Smith completed a 15-yard strike to Brad Brennan for the score.
Nebraska answered and reclaimed the lead at 20-16 with an eight-play, 88-yard drive, almost exclusively through the air. With 10 minutes remaining, Smith opened UA's next drive with a seven-yard pass to Shields, then the Cats ran the ball eight straight times on a 68-yard drive which netted the final score on a Kelvin Eafon one-yard plunge.
Canidate ran for 101 yards on 22 carries. Smith, who completed 11-19 passing for 143 yards and ran for 25 more, was named Holiday Bowl Offensive MVP. NU outgained the Cats, but UA won the turnover battle and kicking game.
UA-McDonald 38 FG
UA-McDonald 25 FG
UA-McDonald 48 FG
NU-Kris Brown 25 FG
NU-Shevin Wiggins 45 pass from Crouch (Brown kick)
NU-Kris Brown 23 FG
UA-Brennan 15 pass from Smith (McDonald kick)
NU-Wistrom 4 pass from Crouch (Brown kick)
UA-Eafon 1 run (McDonald kick)
Rushing: Ariz: Canidate 22-101, Smith 11-25, Eafon 5-14, Northcutt 1-(-15), Jenkins 5-(-18), Neb: Crouch 15-28, Makovicka 5-26, Buckhalter 8-22, Christo 2-11, Evans 4-0.
Passing: Ariz: Smith 11-19-0, 143; Jenkins 1-4-0, 15. Neb: Crouch 12-28-2, 193.
Receiving: Ariz: Northcutt 4-47, Brennan 2-78, Shields 2-12, Lucky 1-15, McDaniel 1-9, Nash 1-4, Eafon 1-(-7). Neb: Davison 3-64, Wistrom 3-41, Cheatham 2-16, Makovicka 1-22, Haafke 1-8, Wiggins 1-45, Buckhalter 1-(-3).
Punting: Ariz: Springston 7-252, 36.0. Neb: LaFleur 6-235, 39.2.
Defensive Leaders: Ariz: Bell 9-1-10 2 TFL, Polk 5-0-5 3 TFL Sack PBU, Payne 5-0-5, Sprotte 4-1-5 TFL FR, McAlister 4-0-4 2INT FR PBU, Jones 4-0-4, Greer 3-0-3 2TFL PBU Sack, Koch 2-0-2.
Game Notes: McAlister finished his career ith 18 interceptions - in three years...Third-string QB Peter Hansen blocked a field goal and Brandon Nash partially blocked a punt for the Cats - the seventh and eighth kick blocks of the year...UA's Mark McDonald, who was 8-17 in field goals during the regular season, was a big key with a perfect 3-for-3 day including a career-long 48-yarder.