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?