My recollection of the Orange Bowl is decades old now, gathering dust, but two things remain forever frozen from the game played 20 years ago this weekend.
One, the Orange Bowl was a dump. It was dingy and moldy and, after dark, your life was in danger. No wonder there were 30,000 empty seats even though the No. 1-ranked Miami Hurricanes had won 20 consecutive games.
Two, as I stood on the field in the final 10 seconds, a few yards away from Arizona's bench, I watched as the UA players and coaches grabbed one another's hands, forming a 30-yard-long link of hope.
The drama was so compelling, the anticipation so great, that UA running backs coach Marc Lunsford openly wept. I couldn't look away.
It was the Chance of a Lifetime for that team and that coaching staff.
Miami led 8-7. UA sophomore Steve McLaughlin lined up for a 51-yard field goal attempt.
Over the next three weeks, Arizona would stuff No. 11 UCLA, beat No. 8 Stanford and whip No. 1 Washington. Unwittingly, a TV analyst would use the term "Desert Swarm" to describe a defense that limited the Miami Hurricanes to minus-2 rushing yards that September afternoon at the Orange Bowl.
Desert Swarm it would be.
And even though McLaughlin's kick sailed a foot or two right of the cross bar, even though the grief overwhelmed the Wildcats as they collapsed onto the turf that afternoon, it was the beginning, a totally unexpected adventure, the most absorbing chapter, 1992-98, of UA football history.
Remember when you hear that the Oregon Ducks are 23-point favorites to beat Arizona this week. College football is a game of transition. Getting beat by the Ducks isn't a life sentence.
On Monday, UA coach Rich Rodriguez made note of the game's most startling statistic of 2012: The Ducks and Wildcats average a combined 100.3 points a game.
"This is the last team you want to have a bunch of three-and-outs against," said RichRod.
Oh, how the game has changed.
In 1992, UA coach Dick Tomey said, "A punt can be a good thing; you've got to preserve your right to punt."
In 2012, Arizona averages 93 plays per game (and Oregon 86). Virtually no team ever huddles (or punts).
In 1992, Tomey said that once his team got "off the bus, we start to kill the clock."
Now it's speed that kills in college football.
The winner of the last four Oregon-Arizona games has scored 56, 55, 48 and 44 points.
But a generation ago, in the most important UA-UO game in history, the Ducks won 10-9 at Autzen Stadium, gaining the Rose Bowl berth and keeping it out of Arizona's frustrated hands.
A year ago, the Ducks scored on six of their first eight possessions to lead Arizona 35-9. And it wasn't yet halftime.
But in 1994 in Eugene, playing for the Rose Bowl, the Ducks gained a mere 236 yards and punted eight times. They won the game on a pass interference call in the fourth quarter because Arizona was "killing the clock," failing to cross midfield in the entire second half.
That was the science and art of college football - a ticket to the Rose Bowl - as recently as 1994.
And now the art of college football, Oregon football, as RichRod says, "is a lot of fast dudes; a lot of fast, fast guys playing fast."
This is dude football. In the Desert Swarm era, it was dig-in football.
In the fall of 1992, at the dawn of a remarkable period in which Arizona would go 54-28-1, offenses were so elementary that Tomey remade his offensive staff after talk that his job was in jeopardy.
He made his defensive coordinator, Duane Akina, his offensive coordinator. It was virtually unprecedented and, most said, suicide.
Tomey brought in a first-year receivers coach, Norm Anderson, from Iowa State; and a first-year guards-centers coach, Charlie Dickey, from NAU. Tomey persuaded a retired head coach, Jim Young, from Army, to coach the offensive line.
But because the UA's defense was so dominant, it didn't matter that Arizona couldn't move the ball any more than it now matters that a team scores 40 against you.
Now you just score more: Oregon beat Arizona 55-45 in 2008 and 44-41 in double overtime in 2009.
The irony of this Arizona-Oregon showdown, Spread vs. Spread, is that Akina, of all people, a career defensive coach, created the first spread offense in Pac-12 history.
In the month before Arizona played Baylor at the 1992 Hancock Bowl in El Paso, Akina redesigned Arizona's stodgy offense. It was a no-huddle offense a decade before it became in vogue. Akina even called it the spread.
Alas, Arizona lost two fumbles late in the game, Baylor converted both into field goals and the Wildcats lost 20-15. So much for the no-huddle, spread offense at Arizona.
On that day in 1992, Glenville (W.Va.) State second-year coach Rich Rodriguez, using his new no-huddle spread option, was coming off a season-ending, 70-7 victory over rival West Virginia Tech.
It would take 20 years, but that version of the spread eventually found its way back to UA football.
In college football, what goes around comes around.
Contact Greg Hansen at 573-4362 or firstname.lastname@example.org