This was Pittsburgh's second Fiesta Bowl appearance. Arizona, despite finishing third in the Pacific-10 Conference, was invited to their first Fiesta Bowl game.
Mark Schubert was the first kicker named MVP, with his three field goals helping the Panthers win a game that had four turnovers by Arizona and two by Pittsburgh. Schubert gave his team a lead they would never relinquish with his two field goals to have a 6–0 lead. Arizona responded with a Brett Weber field goal, but Benjie Pryor caught a touchdown pass from Dan Marino to increase the lead, as Schubert added in a field goal later to make it 16–3 at the end of three quarters. Arizona scored on a Hubert Oliver touchdown run to make it 16–10. After Pittsburgh punted the ball back to Arizona, the Wildcats looked to drive for the winning points with 1:05 left. But just seven seconds later, Jim Krohn's pass was intercepted by Terry White as the Panthers won their first Fiesta Bowl.