Arizona State has disappointed many people with its performance in 2021. Arizona only has one win this season.
Make no mistake, though, about Saturday’s battle for the Territorial Cup. Even if it seems like nothing of major significance is on the line, all these two teams need to get motivated is the thought of hoisting the cup.
Both the Sun Devils and the Wildcats will look to rebound from losses last week and claim bragging rights on Saturday.
Hours after any chance of playing in the Pac-12 Championship Game was dashed by Utah, the Sun Devils lost 24-10 in Corvallis against Oregon State. The Beavers dominated ASU with their rushing attack while stifling ASU’s offense in the first half.
Arizona picked up its second straight loss last week against Washington State. The Wildcats never held a lead as the Cougars blew past Arizona with 14 and 16 points in the second and third quarters, respectively.
What: Arizona State (7-4, 5-3) vs Arizona (1-10, 1-7)
When: Saturday at 2 p.m.
Betting line via FanDuel: ASU -20.5
TV: Pac-12 Network
Radio: ESPN 620 AM / 98.7 FM HD-2
No love lost between rivals
From memorable catches to missed field goals and everything else in between, the Territorial Cup always delivers.
ASU head coach Herm Edwards has gotten to learn what Arizona State’s rivalry with the Wildcats is all about.
Despite the trials and tribulations that Edwards has been through in his four seasons of coaching ASU football, there’s been one constant in his tenure: defeating the Arizona Wildcats.
Edwards is 3-0 against the Wildcats. However, rivalry games are the perfect time to throw records out of the picture.
“[In] a game like this, it doesn’t matter what the records are,” Edwards said. “We know what this thing’s about and our players will know, especially the young ones. They kind of understand, but I think the more they learn about the rivalry, the better.”
Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch certainly knows as well. Despite being in his first year as head coach of the Wildcats, Fisch remembers the 70-7 drubbing that the Wildcats fell victim to last year in Tucson.
“When it’s 63-7 and you call a pass on 4th-and-4, there’s certainly something to that,” Fisch said. “So, we remember.”
Would you expect anything different from a team whose motto this season is “It’s Personal?”
Arizona’s defense may present challenge to struggling ASU passing game
Edwards said Monday and in previous weeks that the passing game needs to be a bigger part of ASU’s offense. While it may not seem like it at first given Arizona’s performance throughout the season, the Wildcats may present some challenges on Saturday afternoon.
“Defensively, they play a lot of man-to-man and they’re going to bring pressure,” Edwards said.
Arizona has 21 sacks on the season, the exact same number as ASU. Sophomore defensive lineman Kyon Barrs leads the group with five sacks. Two other players, redshirt junior defensive lineman Jalen Harris and redshirt senior defensive lineman Mo Diallo, have at least three sacks on the season.
Pressure up front is not the only thing that Edwards mentioned about Arizona’s defense.
“They’ve got some young corners and some safeties that cover well, so we’re going to have to get open and then [junior quarterback Jayden Daniels is] going to have to hit them when they get open,” Edwards said.
The Wildcats have only allowed 8.1 first downs via the pass per game, according to College Football Reference. That’s good for second in the Pac-12, just ahead of ASU’s 8.7 passing first downs allowed.
Arizona has allowed 199.5 passing yards per game this season, third in the Pac-12. On the flip side, the Wildcats are 10th in the conference in rushing defense, allowing 178.3 rushing yards per game.
Saturday will act as a farewell to Arizona defensive coordinator Don Brown, who took a head coaching position with UMass for next season.
Fisch said there will not be a need for Arizona to be motivated for Brown, but rather for themselves and the program.
“Recognize that we’re planting a lot of seeds and one thing that would be a very special one would be finishing this season off right,” Fisch said.