After the wild events of Friday, we'd like to take a moment to step back and appreciate the past, present and future of the Territorial Cup.
So, has anyone else been up for 26 straight hours hunting Wildcats on the outskirts of the greater Tempe area to celebrate Arizona State's 2012 Territorial Cup victory?
No? Just me? Well sorry that the only way I know how to express myself is to go on fruitless, highly illegal pursuits of large felines along the base of A Mountain. I guess my momma was right when she told me that pretending you're Katniss Everdeen at three o'clock in the morning with a makeshift crossbow will get you no where.
Then again, can you blame me? Like a good percentage of Arizonans, I was on a bit of an emotional high following the Sun Devils' breathtaking, 41-34 win in this season's Duel in the Desert. I mean come on gang; it's not every day that you hang 24 points on your arch rival in the final frame. Oh yeah, did I mention that it was on their home turf too?
If you watched it live, then you probably understand where I'm coming from. And much like most ASU fans across the state, you've probably been having an inner debate with your psyche whether or not this year's matchup managed to surpass 2010's for the most epic Sun Devil Territorial Cup win in the 21st century.
But we're not here today to make knee-jerk reactions about the historic context of Friday's game. I've called you all here today to revel in the glory of what's always been one of the most underrated rivalry games in all of sports. Even though the rest of the nation shows it nearly no love, the Territorial Cup still continues its tendency of churning out unpredictability and hysteria on a year-to-year basis.
Need proof? Well try this on for size: seven of the past nine contests have been determined by one score or less while eight of the past thirteen have gone the way of the road team. In other words, utter madness. And with the way these programs are slowly coming together, I'd guess that it's only going to get more intense from here as the stakes rise.
Although the ungodly amount of tuition I pay inherently forces me to root for Arizona State, I still have no problem sharing that I have the utmost respect for what Rich Rodriguez and Greg Byrne are doing down in Tucson. I fully believe that those gentlemen are on the verge of leading the Wildcats to a consistent level of relevancy that has been no where to be found in the nation's 48th state since the founding of American football. In a short matter of time, they've managed to build up a mass feeling of anticipation and aspiration that can only be found in one other location in Arizona: Tempe.
Much like his adversaries that live below him, Todd Graham has managed to swiftly capture the admiration of the fan base as he strives to consummate his visions of a Pac-12 powerhouse. And with the way he capped off the 2012 regular season, there's no doubt that he has a stranglehold on their devotion and possibly the devotion of many instate recruits.
Now it's just a matter of Arizona and Arizona State building off this seasons' surprising campaigns. Yes, I'm sure each team would consider capping this year off with a bowl victory to be pretty nice but I'm envisioning goals greater than that. Something like making sure it's not another 100 years before these two teams both enter the Territorial Cup with winning records; or getting to the point where the Duel in the Desert isn't just for bragging rights and a little tin cup; it's for a bid to play in the Pac-12 championship game.
Once those milestones start to pile it, then the rest of America will have no choice but to admire the grandeur that comes with the Territorial Cup. But for now, I don't think we will have any problem keeping this glorious game all to ourselves.