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It seems that the two words "Territorial Cup" are becoming synonymous with late game excitement. And for the third straight year, the visitor left victorious as the Arizona Wildcats stole a close one from the Arizona State Sun Devils despite Brock Osweiler's best attempts at engineering an 80-yard drive in the game's final seconds. Arizona senior quarterback Nick Foles was the winner of the Bob Moran trophy for the for the rivalry game's best player after totaling 370 yards and two touchdowns on 35-51 passing. ASU senior wide receiver Gerell Robinson was the home team's MVP as he set a new Territorial Cup record with 11 receptions and 199 yards receiving to go along with one touchdown.
Exactly as most people predicted, this one was a shootout from the opening kickoff. Arizona started hot, electing to receive then driving the ball 80 yards for a one-yard Keola Antolin touchdown. As soon as ASU got the ball back, things looked like they might not go the Devils way as Osweiler's first attempt was nearly picked. And that prediction turned out to be correct with his last pass of the drive being an interception that was returned 41 yards by cornerback Shaquille Richardson.
The Wildcats took only one minute and 54 seconds to capitalize on Osweiler's mistake with Foles connecting with Ka'Deem Carey for an 11-yard touchdown. With the blackout crowd already contemplating how to deal with this excruciating loss, ASU picked an excellent time to have their second longest drive of the season (12 plays). A two-yard Cameron Marshall touchdown cut the deficit in half with the first quarter winding down.
And when the second fifteen minutes began, the Wildcats began imploding. An 11-play Arizona drive resulted in zero points after kicker John Bonano bounced his attempt off the left upright. The Devils then took advantage of his inaccuracy when Osweiler hooked up with Gerell Robinson on 11-yard touchdown reception.
The very next drive, in another case of Territorial Cup déjà vu, Bonano missed a 27-yard gimme after another long Wildcat drive. The Devils took no time striking yet again with Osweiler found Aaron Pflugrad deep on a 58-yard reception that lead to another Marshall two-yard touchdown run giving the Devils their first lead of the game (21-14).
After each team gave their punters their first action of the game on back-to-back drives, Arizona was assisted by a Davon Coleman roughing the passer call that was added to the end of a 17-yard Juron Criner catch. That series of events setup Bonano's first made field goal when he drained a 43-yarder, allowing the Wildcats to head into the locker room down only four even after Bonano's best Alex Zendejas impression.
Surprisingly enough, the third quarter was almost the exact opposite of the offensive showcase that preceded it. Alex Garoutte's 22-yard chip-shot field goal was the only points scored in the period with punters Josh Hubner and Kyle Dugandzic putting on a punting clinic.
The final act would be one of the most memorable in the 84-game history of this heated rivalry. It started out slow with another short Garoutte field goal from 27 yards. But it turns out that would be the last points the Devils would put up on the scoreboard.
The Wildcats promptly took the ball 94 yards in a quick 2:08 on a drive that was marred by the team in black whiffing on tackles. In fact, on the 33-yard receiving touchdown by Gino Crump, at least four Sun Devil defenders missed on ample opportunities to bring down the speedy 6'2" senior.
Following Arizona State's failed attempt to convert on fourth down on their next drive, the Wildcats took over the ball in a favorable field position on their own 39. Freshman running back Ka'Deem Carey then proceeded to bust off a few nice runs before one of the games most potentially disastrous moments. After another Carey run, Arizona quarterback Nick Foles remained lying on the field lifeless. After a brief session with the trainers, he was helped off, ushering the inexperienced Bryson Bernie on the field. Bernie then proceeded to carve his name in this rivalry's long history, completing his only pass attempt of the night to Criner for a 23 yard touchdown to give Arizona 31-27 lead.
With 5:11 remaining, Osweiler on the offense had plenty of time to repeat last year's heroics and complete another prolific drive. Instead, Osweiler's pass was defelected and picked by cornerback Jourdon Grandon.
The Wildcats managed to run the clock down to 1:13 before punting the ball for a touchback. Of course, it wasn't over yet though. With no timeouts remaining and 80 yards to go, Osweiler and the receivers had the sold out stadium believing completing pass after pass, moving the ball all the way down field, a mere 15 yards away from the endzone. With nine seconds left, Osweiler attempted another risky pass to senior Mike Willie that was fortunately ricocheted out of bounds. Then, on the final play of the game, Osweiler elected to go right back to Willie. Despite Willie's best diving efforts, the ball was short, bouncing right of his outstretched hands.
The Wildcat sideline instantly stormed the field as the dejected Devils walked off, letting another very beatable opponent humiliate them yet again.
Sadly enough, Arizona State still has a chance at representing the South in inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game despite losing four of their past five games. If a USC team that's sure to be motivated defeats UCLA and Utah can avoid an upset against Colorado then a ASU victory over Cal would put the Devils in a three-way tie with UCLA and Utah. And yes folks, Arizona State would have the tiebreaker.
But the one wild card in that situation is a ASU win, something fans of the maroon and gold haven't seen in what feels like quite a long time.
The Territorial Cup commenced in the third quarter with a 21-17 edge for the Arizona St. Sun Devils over the Arizona Wildcats. After a fast-paced first half, both the Wildcats and Sun Devils struggled offensively in the third quarter
The two teams exchanged punts on their opening drives. The Wildcats punt, returned by Jamal Miles for 44 yards, gave the Sun Devils a chance to score after a 44-yard punt return to Arizona's 23-yard line. The Wildcats defense made a stand in the endzone, however, and held the Sun Devils to a 22-yard field goal by kicker Alex Garoutte that made the score 24-17.
After the field goal, the Wildcats regained possession of the ball. Both teams exchanged another series of punts before the Sun Devils drove down the field to the Wildcat 33-yard line. Quarterback Brock Osweiler found Kevin Ozier for a 22-yard gain, but a hard hit by the Wildcat defense forced a fumble that was recovered by Ariz Derek at the Wildcat 16-yard line.
The Wildcats went three-and-out on their following possession and punted the ball 52 yards, which Jamal Miles returned to the Sun Devil 41-yard line with 0:29 left in the period.
The Sun Devils have possession at the beginning of the fourth quarter at the ASU 44-yard line.
After a strong first quarter, the Arizona Wildcats began unraveling in the second, allowing the Sun Devils to march downfield at will and take a 21-17 lead. Brock Osweiler has been relatively erratic for the most part through two quarters but has still managed to rack up 237 yards and one touchdown to make up for his early interception on ASU's first drive (15-28 on pass attempts). Nick Foles has also taken advantage of some poor tackling in the Sun Devil secondary, totaling 249 yards and one TD in the first 30 minutes of this offensive shootout.
Sadly for Wildcat fans, missed field goals have cost them the lead yet again. Kicker John Bonano shanked his first attempt off the uprights from 49 yards out and barely missed his second from only 27 yards away. Bonano was able to make up for his blunders with a late 43 yard field goal that closed the gap to four points heading into the locker room.
In the battle of big targets though, Gerell Robinson has the slight edge over Juron Criner, already racking up 104 receiving yards on six catches. Robinson also surpassed 1,000 yards on the season with his 11-yard touchdown catch that tied the game at 14 early in the second quarter. Criner isn't far behind though, totaling 97 yards and countless broken tackles on his six catches.
Despite focusing mostly on the pass with the Wildcats generating almost no pass rush, ASU running back Cameron Marshall still has two touchdowns on only seven carries (35 yards for the game). Ka'Deem Carey is also running the ball well for Arizona, generating 49 yards on only five carries and adding 21 receiving yards to go along with his receiving touchdown back in the first quarter.
Arizona State will receive the second half kick after Arizona elected to receive.
The Duel in the Desert is here.
As if the game already didn't have enough riding on the line in terms of bragging rights, pride and the coveted Territorial Cup, the Sun Devils also had their Pac-12 South division title hopes tied to a victory.
Arizona won the toss and elected to receive, but thanks to a decent kick, the settled for a touchback. The Wildcats marched down the field with a series of short passes by Nick Foles, which set up the defense to bite on a play-action pass that went for 48-yards to Juron Criner down to the Sun Devil one-yard line. The Devils appeared to have them stopped, but Osahon Irabor was called for pass interference on third down to give Arizona a new set of downs. That would prove costly, as two plays later Keola Antolin scored from a yard out to give the Wildcats an early 7-0 lead.
A great special teams tackle on the ensuing kickoff forced ASU to start at their own 19. The first two passes were tipped by Wildcat defenders, but Brock Osweiler was able to evade pressure and find Gerell Robinson for a nice 27-yard grab, and two plays later Aaron Pflugrad made a sensational one-handed grab to move into Arizona territory. However, Osweiler threw one behind Robinson and it was picked off by Shaquille Richardson and run back 41-yards.
The Wildcats wasted little time. Antolin turned a short screen into a 46-yard gain as he juked several ASU defenders and was finally taken down at the ASU three. Foles then found a wide open Ka'Deem Carey for an 11-yard score to extend the lead to 14-0.
Miles then fumbled the kickoff, but it was recovered by the Sun Devils. Osweiler was shaky with his accuracy, but found Robinson on several passes, including a 34-yarder to get to the Wildcat 10. Perhaps returning the favor, the Wildcats committed pass interference in the end zone, giving ASU a first and goal from the two. Two plays later, Cameron Marshall plunged in to cut the lead in half.
As the first quarter ended, the Wildcats were driving and had the ball at their own 49.
The 2011 Duel In The Desert is here. The annual rivalry game between the Arizona Wildcats and Arizona State Sun Devils has big implications on the Pac-12 South race and a sold out stadium is expected.
For the Devils, they're a program that have their eyes set on a division title. A win over the Wildcats would go a long way in making that happen. For the Wildcats, a rough season could be forgot with a huge road victory over their in-state rivals.
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. from Tempe.
TV Coverage: Fox Sports Net will air the game live. Tom Leander will handle play-by-play duties, Adam Archuleta serves as the analyst and John Fina will report from the sidelines.
Radio: Arizona Radio Network, 1290 AM Tucson; Sun Devil Sports Radio Network, KTAR 620 AM.
Weather Report: It'll be a beautiful night for football on Saturday. Expect temperatures in the mid-60's at kickoff with no rain in the forecast.
Opening Line: ASU is favored by 10 points.
The 2011 Duel In The Desert is here and the game will have big implications in the Pac-12 South race. If the Sun Devils win, they could be on their way to the conference title game in two weeks. If the Wildcats win, they could knock ASU into third place and build a lot of momentum for the future as they begin a new era of Arizona football.
With the game scheduled to kick off later Saturday evening, Arizona will potentially be without their starting left defensive end in C.J. and defensive tackle Justin Washington. Both players are listed as doubtful for today's game and each played missed time last week because of their injury. In a bit of good news for UA, star cornerback Trevin Wade is likely to play after battling a sore calf muscle.
Arizona State has been healthy throughout most of the year and will have everyone available. Players have their fair shares of bumps and bruises at this point in the season, but it's something everyone deals with. Dennis Erickson has to feel good about his chances tonight, especially with Arizona banged up the way they are.
The full injury report can be found here.
The Arizona Wildcats haven't necessarily had themselves a season to remember during their 2011 campaign, but can still taste the sweet nectar of victory by taking out their arch-rival Arizona State Sun Devils this weekend at Sun Devil Stadium.
Senior quarterback Nick Foles knows this is his last shot at beating the Devils, and wants it especially bad after the sour taste left in his mouth from the 30-29 loss to State last season in double-overtime.
"It's for bragging rights," UA senior quarterback Nick Foles said. "It's really huge for the fans. Neither team can stand each other. I don't like ASU at all. It's always a hard-fought, dirty game."
But Foles' true motivation to beat the Sun Devils stems from a much more primordial level:
"I just don't like them. I don't need anything else."
Foles' college career was originally destined for ASU, the school where he first committed before Dirk Koetter was fired. Foles changed his mind after new coach Dennis Erickson went after another QB, Chasen Stangel. Obviously, his dislike for the program runs deeper than simply going to Arizona.
Foles would end up at Michigan State for a year before transferring to Arizona, where he became UA's all-time passing leader with 9,289 yards, and needs only 72 yards to break the record for season passing yards (3,612). And what a better time to do so then against the school that passed you over.
As for the team as a whole, Interim head coach Tim Kish does not have the 'any-another-game' approach that recently fired Bob Stoops had, he sees it as the most important game on the schedule.
"It really doesn't matter what the records are and what the situations are, year in and year out. Beating your rival, beating ASU for us, that's the key game each year.
The last time Arizona played at Sun Devil Stadium, the Wildcats pulled out a 20-17 victory, and currently own a 47-36-1 record against them all-time. The story lines are there, they talent is there, the rivalry is there. Now all we need is a dramatic, hard-nosed game of football from it.
The Arizona St. Sun Devils and Arizona Wildcats will square off in this year's edition of the Duel in the Dessert on Saturday in Tempe. The rivalry, which draws its roots from the very first encounter between the two teams back in 1899, pits the two Arizona schools against one another in a heated competition that draws the attention of the entire state.
Sun Devils head coach Dennis Erickson provided his thoughts on the ASU-U of A rivalry, courtesy of FS Arizona:
"This is as big [a rivalry] as any I've ever been around. In this state you're either a Sun Devil or a Wildcat. Those kinds of rivalries, when you have to live with for a year, that's what makes it so big."
Over the last five encounters, ASU has recorded a 3-2 edge, including a dramatic 30-29 victory in double overtime last year. The Sun Devils look to win this year's contest in order to better their chances in the Pac-12 South race, while the Wildcats hope to play spoiler against their longtime rival.
More so than conference implications, however, players on both sides will play for school pride. Perhaps quarterback Brock Osweiler did the best job in summing up the game's atmosphere and the mentality of players leading up to Saturday's game:
"This is why you sign up to play college football. It's games like this that can really kind of make or break a year.
When the Arizona State Sun Devils came to Tucson last season, the team had nothing to lose. ASU won 30-29 in overtime.
When the two teams meet in Tempe this weekend, the Arizona Wildcats will be the team with nothing to lose.
Outside of the UCLA game, absolutely nothing has gone right for UA football in 2011. The program's head coach of eight years, Mike Stoops, was fired after a bad start. The kicking game was among the worst in the nation for half of the year. The defense was torn to shreds by injuries. And while there was plenty of firepower at the skill positions, the offense never quite clicked for Arizona.
The Wildcats have nothing to lose and everything to gain on Saturday. Their coaching staff will likely be gone within two or three weeks and the team is not eligible for a bowl game.
On the contrary, Arizona State has everything to lose. Once believed to be a lock for the Pac-12 South title, the team now finds itself in second place with a lot of work to do. The fan base is suddenly calling for the removal of head coach Dennis Erickson and the defense has been torn apart in recent weeks.
This year's Dual in the Desert may just be the perfect storm for the struggling Wildcats.
Expect trick plays, wonky formations and the team to go for it on fourth down more times than not on Saturday evening. Expect Nick Foles to air the ball out 60 times if UA falls behind early. Expect more blitzes than usual and the big hits that always come in a heated rivalry game.
Go get 'em, Wildcats. Leave it all on the field. This season has been a nightmare; what better to do than ruin ASU's season?
The Arizona St. Sun Devils are preparing for the annual Territorial Cup against the Arizona Wildcats this weekend after two straight road losses to Pac-12 opponents. Amid anticipation for the always-competitive rivalry game, Sun Devils head coach Dennis Erickson finds himself facing questions about his future in Tempe.
Erickson was asked on Arizona Sports 620 for thoughts about his job security. His response encouraged a wait-and-see approach over ASU's final games:
"I don't know, I mean, Lisa [Love] and I will talk at the end of the season, when it's all over. You know, visit and talk about where we're at and so forth."
Erickson can help improve his chances of staying by beating the Wildcats this weekend. A third straight loss for this ASU squad- coming at home against the struggling Wildcats, no less- would only worsen Erickson's perception in the view of fans and ASU athletic department officials alike.
A win over Arizona, meanwhile, could prove as a springboard for the Sun Devils. ASU is a perfect 5-0 at home this season, and back-to-back wins over the Wildcats and the Cal Golden Bears in Tempe could secure ASU's berth in the Pac-12 conference title game. From there, a strong showing or win against the Pac-12 North representative could help dispel the doubts of the team's recent two-game losing streak.
First, however, Erickson needs to beat the Wildcats. Fans will look past the team's disappointing road showing if the Sun Devils can put on a dominant performance against their in-state rivals on Saturday.
Hey, it's still a rivalry.
Even though the Arizona Wildcats have struggled this year, coming away with an upset win over the rival Arizona St. Sun Devils would make the Wildcats season. But no one in Vegas believes the Wildcats will pull this off.
The Sun Devils are currently installed as 10.5 point favorites over the Wildcats. Arizona enters the game with the 4th ranked passing offense in the country at 368.3 yards per game but that's where the positive vibe ends. The defense allows 36.1 points per game for 110th in the nation and the Wildcats have lost eight of their last nine games.
Arizona St. isn't faring much better. Though sitting at a serviceable 6-4 this season, they've lost three of their last four.
Rivalry games can be quite the blessing for teams looking for momentum. The Wildcats seem to be arriving at the perfect time for the Sun Devils to right the ship.
The Arizona St. Sun Devils have hit a turbulent stretch of their season with back-to-back losses coming against the UCLA Bruins and Washington St. Cougars on the road. The Sun Devils return home for a big home game against the Arizona Wildcats in this year's Territorial Cup, and ASU looks to record a win in order to secure bragging rights while also improving its postseason bowl prospects. According to SB Nation's very own Bill Connelly and the latest edition of his 2011 bowl projections, the Sun Devils are projected to play in the Valero Alamo Bowl against Baylor.
Connelly has the Sun Devils beating both the Wildcats and the Cal Golden Bears over ASU's final two games of the regular season to secure a berth in the inaugural Pac-12 title game. Connelly further predicts that the Sun Devils will fall to the Oregon Ducks in the championship game to fall to 8-5 on the season.
Meanwhile, Baylor is projected to drop one of its final three games to finish the season 8-4. The Bears, who generated buzz behind the arm of Robert Griffin III early on in the year, have rebounded from a tough 1-3 stretch with consecutive wins. They play the Oklahoma Sooners on the road this week in what figures to be their toughest game left this season.
Before ASU can start considering postseason implications and a potential match-up against Baylor, the Sun Devils need to ensure a strong finish to their regular season over the team's final two games. The Sun Devils can bounce back from two bad road outings and generate momentum moving forward with back-to-back wins at home. First up: the rival Wildcats.
For more on the upcoming bowl season, check out the 2011 College Football Bowl Schedule.
Coach Dennis Erickson fields a question about his job status, but his attention is on beating in-state rival Arizona, a must-win game for ASU and one that could save Erickson's job.
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