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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona Wildcats seek Territorial Cup

	File Photo / The Daily Wildcat

File Photo / The Daily Wildcat

Just in case you’re wondering, Arizona football head coach Rich Rodriguez doesn’t need a reminder that he’s winless against ASU.

While the Wildcats went 8-5 in his first season and won a bowl game, for many fans, Arizona’s loss to its hated rival tainted the season.

Rodriguez hopes to put that behind him on Saturday.

“I heard it a bunch of times. ‘Oh, really? That’s a great revelation; I didn’t know that,’” Rodriguez said about being reminded of the loss to ASU. “‘Thanks for reminding me. Next person.’”

Arizona (7-4, 4-4 Pac-12) will travel to No. 12 ASU (9-2, 7-1) to try to win back the Territorial Cup on Saturday.

Senior quarterback B.J. Denker, who is from Southern California, didn’t grow up with the rivalry, but he said it didn’t take him long to understand it.

“Once you get here, you learn quickly what this game means and how important it is,” Denker said. “On my official visit here, I was taught what ‘bear down’ was and why we don’t like ‘that school up north.’”

Even though freshman receiver Nate Phillips was not on the team last year, he saw the Wildcats lose and is motivated to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“I have seen and heard stories about the games and how legendary they are,” Phillips said. “I came to the one last year. Unfortunately, we lost, but this year, we are going to go out there and try to change that.”

The Territorial Cup game is named after the oldest trophy in college football.

This is the first time since 1986 that both teams have entered the game with at least seven wins.

“There’s definitely a little more jawing and more intensity,” junior safety Jared Tevis said. “You can tell how much it means to each player and how strong this rivalry is. It’s definitely a fun environment, though.”

Starting with Arizona’s win in Tempe, Ariz. in 2009, the road team has won every game in the series.

Last season, ASU upset No. 24 Arizona 41-34, as the Wildcats blew a 10-point fourth quarter lead.
“It hurt a lot,” Tevis said. “ASU is always a game we want to win. It definitely still stings a little bit, so we are trying to change that this year and get that cup back this year.”

If ASU, which lost 42-28 at Stanford, wins, it hosts the Pac-12 Championship game against the Cardinal. A win for Arizona can improve its bowl.

“I could care less what they’re playing for,” Rodriguez said. “We’re trying to improve our bowl status and it’s our last regular season game, but in and of itself, it’s the ASU game. It’s one of the biggest rivalries in college sports.”

The Wildcats lead the all-time series 47-38-1. The first meeting was 114 years ago, on Nov. 30, 1899.

“This game is important; it’s the most important game on our schedule,” Denker said.

The rivalry is even more intense for Arizona natives like Tevis and junior running back Ka’Deem Carey, who are from Tucson, and senior linebacker Jake Fischer, who is from Oro Valley, Ariz.

“I really hated these dudes,” Tevis said. “My sister ended up going there — she’s a traitor [laughs] — and I have some buddies that go there, so that kind of amplifies it even more because they like talking trash. And so we have to make sure that they don’t have anything to talk about.”

Rodriguez said sometimes the rivalries go “over the top,” but that most of it is all in good fun.

“To me, what makes college football so exciting is the rivalry games, because people are so passionate,” Rodriguez said. “You may say there’s some kind of rivalries like that in the NFL, but I don’t think it’s the same intensity that there is in college.”

—Follow James Kelley @JamesKelley520

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