More than just the Territorial Cup could be at stake in ASU-UofA rivalry game
ASU and UofA's final season of Pac-12 football hasn't had many highlights for the Sun Devils, but they have a chance to end their season on a high note by upsetting an unexpectedly strong Wildcats team.
Driving the news: ASU and UofA play their annual rivalry game at 1:30pm Saturday at Mountain America Stadium.
State of play: The Sun Devils have struggled through a 3-8 season, while the Wildcats have been the surprise of the conference this year, going 8-3 and climbing to No. 16 in the AP rankings.
Yes, but: The rivalry game is a different animal as far as ASU head coach Kenny Dillingham is concerned, and whatever happened before this week is irrelevant.
- "There's two seasons when you play at ASU. There's the first 11 games and that's one season. And then there's the team-down-south week and that's entirely another season," he told the Arizona Republic.
The intrigue: There's more at stake this year than who takes home the Territorial Cup — UofA has a shot at making it to the final Pac-12 championship game, but the only way for that to happen is for the Wildcats to beat ASU.
- Even then, the Wildcats still need No. 15 Oregon State to upset No. 6 Oregon on the Ducks' home field on Friday.
- The No. 5-ranked Washington Huskies have already punched their tickets to the conference title game.
Who to watch: Backup quarterback Noah Fifita stepped in as UofA's starter on Sept. 30 after Jayden de Laura suffered an ankle injury. Since, the Wildcats have gone 5-2 and are on a five-game winning streak.
- UofA wideout Tetairoa McMillan has 976 receiving yards, the third-most in the Pac-12, and nine touchdowns, which is tied for fifth.
Of note: The Pac-12 nixed its north and south divisions last year and refashioned the conference championship game so it features the top two teams.
- If the Pac-12 South still existed, Arizona would be leading it.
- UofA's only appearance in the conference title game was in 2014, when the Wildcats lost to Oregon.
Context: This is the first time since 2014 the Wildcats have been ranked going into the rivalry game.
- ASU and UofA were both ranked that year.
- The last time ASU defeated a ranked Wildcats team for the Territorial Cup was 1992.
- UofA leads the rivalry 50–45–1, largely as a result of the Wildcats' 20-2 record to start the rivalry from 1899-1948.
The big picture: ASU and UofA will join the Big 12 next year, as will fellow Pac-12 teams Colorado and Utah.
- Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington will join the Big 10 next year, while Cal and Stanford become ACC members.
- It's unclear whether the Pac-12 will completely dissolve or reconstitute itself with new members. A superior court judge in eastern Washington last week awarded Oregon State and Washington State, the conference's last two teams, control of the Pac-12 and its assets.
More Phoenix stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Phoenix.