Tag Archives: Territorial Cup

Arizona Dominates Arizona State in The Territorial Cup

When it comes to the Territorial Cup in the state of Arizona it gets pretty intense with players, coaches, and fans. There have been confrontations on the court between players, coaches being ejected, upsets, and all sorts of colorful adjectives being hurled at each team. This is an intense rivalry game and it doesn’t matter the sport. People mention a hatred toward their rival and it’s not something that they joke about. It is a hatred for that other school. Wednesday night in Tucson, Arizona was another edition of this rivalry on the basketball court.

Arizona came into this game needing to continue their winning ways because their thought is another conference title and a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Qualifying for the big dance is not going to be an issue for the Arizona Wildcats, but questions are floating out there about how talented this Arizona team actually is. The Wildcats don’t exactly have that show-stopping talent that they have had in recent years, but for a game like the one against their rival Arizona State they had more than enough talent to compete.

Arizona State is just a team trying to hang on until the end of the season. For a good portion of the season the Sun Devils they have been playing with only eight scholarship players. Injuries have also taken a toll on Bobby Hurley’s team. Anybody that knows anything about basketball knows that if your team is injured and you have only eight guys that can play winning is going to be a challenge.

It was a challenge on Wednesday night for the Sun Devils.

Not only did the Wildcats have a talent edge, they had a size advantage over the Sun Devils. They made their inside presence felt most of the night by blocking shot after shot out of the air. Midway through the second half the Wildcats already had seven blocks, with Kaleb Tarczewski owning three of those.

Kaleb Tarczewski. If you follow Pac-12 basketball you know who this player is. If you follow college basketball in general you should know who he is. The Sun Devils knew who he was and couldn’t do anything to stop him. He was ready to play and so was the rest of the Wildcat team. Tarczewski finished the game with 6 points, 15 rebounds, and 4 blocks. He made life miserable for the Sun Devil offense all evening.

The Sun Devils were not ready to play and it showed. When you shoot worse from two-point range than three-point range things will not work out for your team. That is exactly what happened to the Devils on Wednesday night. The Sun Devils shot 32% from two point range and 34% from three point range. This showed in the first half with the Sun Devils down by 14 points at half 38-24 which when you consider everything that the Wildcats did it was a gift only being down 14.

The second half was Wildcat domination in every facet of the game. In fact, with about 15 minutes left in the game Sun Devil Head Coach Bobby Hurley who is usually up and barking at the referees retired to his seat on the Arizona State bench and didn’t say a word.

Hurley was looking at what he wants for his own program in Tempe. Hurley wants players to flock to Arizona State to play basketball and provide the level of excitement the players at Arizona give their fans. What does Hurley need to do to make the basketball Territorial Cup more of a rivalry? Simple. To quote Al Davis, “Just win baby.” The winning is going to take some time because ASU does not have the history that history that Arizona has when it comes to basketball. Big time recruits want to play where they are going to win and ASU doesn’t provide that yet. Sun Devil fans hope Bobby Hurley can bring that type of swag to their program.

By the time this edition of the Territorial Cup was over the Wildcats showed everybody in the Pac-12 that they are not going anywhere and will do whatever they needed to do to secure another conference title. Arizona shot 57% from the field, 72% from the free throw line, dominated on the boards 52-27, and dominated on the scoreboard 99-61. If the Wildcats turn in this type of performance the remainder of the season then things will turn out well for them. Bear Down Arizona!

Territorial Cup: What Did the Sun Devils Gain from Winning?

The Territorial Cup is the rivalry game between Arizona State an Arizona, and to the fans of those two schools it is the only game that matters. The game is nicknamed “The Dual in the Desert” and for the most part it has been your typical rivalry game due to its intense nature, fights in the stands, fights on the field, and wanting to have 365 days of bragging rights in the state of Arizona.

However for most of this great rivalry, the game has not had much importance outside of the state of Arizona. The implications of this game have not resulted in much of altering of the national title picture. There have been a handful of times when this game has changed who may go to the Rose Bowl Game or maybe even the Fiesta Bowl, but has not determined who wins the National Championship.

Saturday was another one of those times where the implications were only revolving around which lower tier bowl either one of these two teams would be going to. The Arizona Wildcats were already bowl eligible, while Arizona State was teetering on going below the .500 level for the first time all season or becoming bowl eligible themselves.

When it was all said and done for day the Sun Devils made the plays when needed, finally decided to throw the deep ball with success, and used their better overall team speed to come out with a 52-37 win. But questions remain, what does this mean in the bigger picture? What is really gained by the Sun Devils by having an average season?

Every college football coach will tell you that it helps in recruiting. This is a double edged sword thought. High school athletes like to see a potential school that they may attend be in the post season, but it doesn’t help if your post season includes going to Sun Bowl, Foster Farms Bowl, or the Las Vegas Bowl. Players like to see the school going to the Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, or to the College Football Playoff. Those are types of games that impress recruits and will help the Sun Devils get the four and five star recruits that they need to build their program.

The other aspect that of making the bowl season that coaches will say benefits the program are the extra practices that they get. I would agree that it helps, but it’s only helpful to the current team. Players that play behind DJ Foster, Mike Bercovici, or any other first team player on the Sun Devils don’t get the reps or experience, so the benefits for the team as a whole are a bit over exaggerated.

All the preseason thought was that the Sun Devils would be a team that could possibly make the Rose Bowl or even the college football playoff, but we know how that played out. What’s the overall gain for the Devils then? When your team has an average season at best nothing is gained.

This year for the Devils has been a season of “what might have been”. There have been injuries, but a team that is picked by some for the playoff overcomes those injuries. Any other excuse they may throw out there just doesn’t fit for this version of the Sun Devils. The Devils tried selling a type of Kool-Aid that in end, was just too watered down to make anything of consequence happen in 2015. They will be going bowling this year, but it was more of a Forks Down year than a Forks Up year. Time to start looking toward 2016 Sun Devil fans.

Hey Coach Rodriguez, We Love You

There’s just something about the unknown that makes us all pessimistic about everything, unless it’s someone else’s unknown, then it’s basically a coin flip. When it comes to hiring new coaches to take you to the promised land, you tend to think you want your school to win the press conference, but in actuality, winning actual football games is paramount.

Now, a guy like Nick Saban, that’s a home run hire, unless you’re the Miami Dolphins, but a Head Coach from Youngstown State, Glenville State, or even the non-automatic-qualifying ranks of the Football Bowl Subdivision offers anxious fan little on the day of their hire. There are two things the fans are looking for; someone that’s better than the last guy and someone who gets the program where the fans think it should be.

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For a school like Arizona, they’re still trying to figure out the formula. About a decade ago, they tried to go with bloodlines, and they knew any of the Stoops brothers came from pretty good stock. Honestly, for that program, in the aftermath of the John Mackovic era, Mike Stoops was a good fit. Unless you really disliked what Bob was doing at Oklahoma with Mike on his staff, you had to feel things were looking up in Tucson.

Things got better before they got worse, but the bar was set pretty low. From 2001 to 2003, Mackovic, the guy before Stoops, went 3-14 in conference. In 2001, the inaugural season of HBO’s Hard Knocks demonstrated just how inept the guy before Mackovic (Dick Tomey) was, when the Ravens bluntly told quarterback Ortege Jenkins that he was a gifted athlete, but came out of the U of A so raw that they couldn’t develop him, a shameful reflection of the state of the dilapidated “Desert Swarm”. However, under Stoops the pinnacle was a 7-5 season and a Las Vegas Bowl appearance.

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Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t about the Bowl appearance, though the program would like to someday play in a Rose Bowl, but competing with two teams in-state. You may look at what’s actually “in-state” for Arizona and see only one other FBS program, and Arizona State is certainly a source of angst, not only for the school itself, but for the proud people of the “Old Pueblo”.

Historically, Tucson has stomached the angst of the football program, while waiting for November and all the excitement there was to be had at the McKale Center. Whoever runs the show on the gridiron, coaches in the same shadow of Lute Olson that Sean Miller does on the hardwood, except said football coach also has Miller’s shadow to deal with. Nothing short of divine intervention will cause the seismic shift necessary to convert the University of Arizona into a football school per se, but they have to be competitive enough to keep the folks around town interested.

Enter one Coach Rich Rodriguez; you may recognize that name from other coaching ventures, such as West Virginia or Michigan, but in the present tense, he is tasked with righting the ship for the Wildcats. After an enormous amount of success at West Virginia, his alma mater, the road got bumpy in Ann Arbor when his style didn’t translate to the Big Ten.

He didn’t exactly have to take over for Bo Schembechler there, but Lloyd Carr had done well enough, if you’d excuse the loss to Appalachian State to open the 2007 season, his final one on the sidelines for the Corn and Blue. Some poll voted Carr’s team #1 in 1997, so he had that feather in his cap, which left Rodriguez with some decent sized shoes to fill. The rub was that Carr went 1-6 against Jim Tressel-led Ohio State teams, so that was where RichRod needed to answer the call.

Three seasons, three losses to the Buckeyes, and a brow-beating in a lower tier Bowl later, Rodriguez is off the sideline and in the studio for CBS Sports and they begin to miss him in Columbus quite quickly. Ohio State fans respected Schembechler and Carr, albeit after the fact, but they just missed their Buckeyes taking “That School Up North” behind the woodshed once a year. In 2010, there was a memorable moment in the stands when fans of the Scarlet & Grey revealed a long banner that read, “HEY COACH RODRIGUEZ, WE LOVE YOU”. An angry Michigan fan attacked the banner; apparently, that love did not go north of Toledo.

After a year in the studio, Rodriguez found himself in Tucson with an inexperienced Senior at quarterback, but a very capable back in Kadeem Carey. With apologies to Marion Grice and D’Anthony Thomas, Carey is the best ball carrier in the PAC-12. In Tempe, fans may not want to hear that. They pride themselves in one thing above all at Arizona State, being superior to that school in Tucson in every way, shape, and form.

No matter what transpires in the first 11 games of the season, all of ASU’s worries can be alleviated by winning the Territorial Cup, a game that goes back farther than the “Arizona State University” brand itself. The Wildcats have disliked the campus in Tempe since it was called the “Tempe Normal School”, it didn’t become ASU until 1948 after an 18-year run as the Arizona State Teacher’s College, but the game has been played since 1899.

Arizona has the edge in the series, 47-38-1, but that’s a bit of a misnomer in the same context that Rodriguez’s former employer has over their rival, dominating the contemporary era. Arizona won 20 of the first 22 contests, up until 1948. Since the teams began playing every season in 1946, the school in Tempe has a 36-30-1 advantage.

Arizona has won 3 of the last 5 match ups in a series that has been coined The Pillow Fight, even if only by Yours Truly. The last time anything real was at stake was 2007, when the Sun Devils needed the win to claim a share of USC’s PAC-10 Championship and they did 20-17. Conference titles are pretty few and far between in the Sonoran Desert, with ASU’s last one prior to six years ago coming with the help of Jake Plummer. Arizona has never been to the Rose Bowl.

There’s something about RichRod and rivalry games that make you think he’s asleep at the wheel when it matters the most. Obviously being 0-3 vs Ohio State didn’t make him a popular man in Michigan. In first crack at ASU, he looked like he had it in cruise control at home, with a 10-point 2nd half lead, but the tide turned on a weird fumble by his Matt Scott, the aforementioned inexperienced senior. A blocked punt and an interception later, Todd Graham’s visiting Sun Devils had it in the bag, and Rodriguez got his PAC-12 career in rivalry games off on the wrong foot. A win could have sent the Cats to Vegas, but this loss landed them on a cold field in Albuquerque.

Even before he got to Michigan, the cards fell the way of Rodriguez’s West Virginia team, and the only thing that stood between them and a date in the National Championship was rival Pitt in the Backyard Brawl. Of course, though they were 4-3 in the rivalry during RichRod’s time in Morgantown, they lost.

It leaves me to wonder how many pillow fights they need to lose before “Hey Coach Rodriguez, We Love You” becomes a thing in Tempe.

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