by Dave Devine
That obstacle, plus the immense difficulty of a schedule which was described as "the toughest season in the history of the school," faced coach Tex Oliver's 1936 University of Arizona football team.
The Wildcats, also known as the Blue Brigade, were coming off a 7-2 record in 1935, including a 4-0 record in the Border Conference. They opened their 1936 season at home against Brigham Young.
A capacity crowd of 7,500 was treated to an unusual display of offensive fireworks. Arizona began with a 20-yard pass play and closed the game as their 215-pound fullback, Walt "Hoss" Nielsen, carried a BYU safety into the end zone to complete the 32-6 victory.
The next week's game was in Salt Lake City against the Utah Utes, and a series of inopportune penalties led to a 14-6 defeat. According to the front-page story in the next day's newspaper, Arizona ended the game by throwing four incomplete passes from the Utah 13-yard line.
The following game saw a satisfying 18-0 victory in Tempe over the Arizona State Teachers College Bulldogs, today known as ASU. The host team only gained 79 total yards, while Arizona accumulated 288.
After the contest concluded, Wildcat fans pulled down a goalpost--before the stadium lights were turned off and fistfights broke out on the field.
That win was followed by a tie against Centenary--which Arizona secured with a late 80-yard touchdown drive--and then a win over New Mexico State.
Another tie, this time against Kansas in Lawrence, was next. Arizona fumbled five times, and the home team fumbled six times. Two teams combined to punt the ball an amazing 41 times.
Returning to Tucson for their homecoming game, the Wildcats polished off New Mexico, 28-0.
Arizona then traveled to East Lansing to take on the powerful Spartans of Michigan State. The game was hard-fought, with the home team prevailing 7-0. Despite that, Wildcat backers were pleased by their team's performance.
Playing Wyoming on the soggy field at Phoenix Union High School the next week, Arizona pummeled the Cowboys, 58-0.
A 7-7 tie against Texas Tech in Tucson--in which the visitors scored a controversial fourth-quarter touchdown to knot the score--ended the season.
While the team's overall record was 5-2-3, the Wildcats' 3-0-1 record in the Border Conference placed it atop the standings. The Wildcats had pulled off the incredibly difficult repeat.
© 2017 Tucson Weekly