The annual Territorial Cup battle between the Arizona Wildcats and Arizona St. Sun Devils is only one day away. Both schools are currently in the midst of a culture change with new head coaches, and this first season has been better than expected for both teams.
SB Nation Arizona will be previewing all aspects of the 2012 Territorial Cup. In Thursday's subject, we will be analyzing what a win would mean for each program. ASU contributor Cody Ulm and UA contributor Scott Coleman weighed in on the topic.
Cody Ulm: Todd Graham has made it clear many times during the early stages of his hiring that beating Arizona is at the very top of his to-do list on a year-to-year basis. Well, the time has come to put his money where his mouth is.
Graham's first year in Tempe has been a surprising success and while a loss to the Wildcats wouldn't make it an automatic failure, it certainly would take away some of the glimmer. With the new regimes of both schools getting off to such a solid start, I strongly feel that this game is the most important Territorial Cup in the 21st century. With collegiate football in Arizona is slowly beginning to trend upwards out of national irrelevancy, a win this year should set the tone of instate superiority for the immediate future.
I also believe a loss would be a considerable blow to Graham's campaign of returning ASU's pride and image. The man has already went above and beyond when it comes to reaching out to fans and building up hype. But nothing gets Sun Devil more energized than a win over the Wildcats, especially in Tucson.
And while we're on the subject of Tucson, a road win at this point would also do Graham some serious good. The one major complaint against his ASU team so far is that they haven't been able to win away from the friendly confines of Sun Devil Stadium. Their only road victories so far have been against two Pac-12 bottom feeders (Cal and Colorado) so the jury is still out if he can prepare his team to play in hostile environments. It doesn't get much more hostile than Tucson though when you're a Devil so a potential win could be doubly advantageous.
Scott Coleman: A win would mean a lot of things for Arizona. For one, it would mark UA's fourth Territorial Cup win in the last five years, with the lone loss coming on two blocked extra points. That kind of dominance is something all Wildcats would take pride in. Keeping the Territorial Cup where it belongs in Tucson is always nice.
On the local scale, a big win could pay dividend on the recruiting trail. High school programs in Arizona are as good as they have ever been and it's imperative the 'Cats win the in-state recruiting battle. A win on Friday night can only help their chances with the state's top talent. On the national level, the game will be televised by ESPN. All eyes will be on the desert and it's imperative that Arizona shows they are worthy of a top-25 ranking and are deserving of a big-time bowl bid. Losing at home never looks good, and it's even worse when it's to a rival on national television.
Rich Rodriguez and his staff have done an incredible job this season. They had the deck stacked against them and now have the team at 7-4 against one of the nation's toughest schedules. A win against That School Up North would be an awfully sweet cherry on top of a great year. But would a loss ruin the season? No way.