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.