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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Role reversal

Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat

University of Arizona meets Arizona State University in an NCAA mens football game in Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz., Nov. 28, 2009. Arizona went on to win 20-17.
Michael Ignatov
Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat University of Arizona meets Arizona State University in an NCAA men’s football game in Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz., Nov. 28, 2009. Arizona went on to win 20-17.

The date is Oct. 28, 2007, and the ASU football team is ranked No. 4 in the Bowl Championship Series standings. A couple of weeks later, ASU defeated Arizona 20-17 in Tempe, crushing the Wildcats’ hopes for the program’s first bowl appearance in nine years and putting them in sixth place in the Pacific 10 Conference.

The win for ASU clinched a co-Pac-10 Conference title with USC, and the Sun Devils moved on to lose to Texas in the Holiday Bowl.

With head coach Dennis Erickson bringing in top recruits in his first year, and quarterback Rudy Carpenter returning for his senior season, the future looked bright for the football team in Tempe.

Flash forward to Saturday, where Arizona knocked off ASU 20-17 at Sun Devil Stadium. 

“”That was fun,”” Stoops said after the win. “”It’s a lot different than it was two years ago, that’s for sure. I think (ASU fans) were throwing stuff on me for other reasons then, it might have been our fans too.””

The home team left the field dejected after its last game of the year, while the Wildcats gained a shot at playing in the Holiday Bowl.

Since ASU’s 2007 campaign, in which it won 10 games, it has totaled a combined nine wins in two years, and with the loss to Arizona, the Sun Devils have to deal with their first consecutive losing seasons since 1946-1947.

It seems, for now, that the two programs have taken 180-degree turns from two years ago.

But what exactly caused the sudden change in direction?

For starters, it began before Erickson even got to Tempe, when former ASU coach Dirk Koetter left the program. The coaching change caused then-Sun Devil recruit Nick Foles to commit to play quarterback at Michigan State, and ultimately end up in Tucson.

Inconsistency at quarterback has plagued ASU ever since the beginning of last season, primarily this year, when the Sun Devils shuffled through three different starters at the position.

Foles has given Arizona a legitimate starting quarterback for the next two seasons, showing how the hard work by coaches in the off-season has turned the program around.

“”Our coaches do a great job of recruiting kids,”” senior Terrell Turner said. “”We’re getting guys in and getting guys developed with our strength and conditioning and our academics and things like that.””

Arizona coaches have also changed the attitude of the players, forcing them to work for their success while doing their jobs at practice every day. This makes a game like Saturday taste that much sweeter.

“”Even if you take a summer job and work for a Pinto, that’s better than getting a (Mercedes) Benz,”” Turner explained. “”You’ll take care of that Pinto like it’s your last. I’ll remember this season so much because we’ve come so far in the past three years that we’ve been here.

“”Anything that you work for and have success in feels much better than anything that’s been given to you,”” he added.

In a heated rivalry like the one these two programs share, there is always plenty of trash talking to go around.

For now, the Wildcats will look to continue about their business quietly, avoiding what senior safety Cam Nelson sees as karma.

“”(ASU) did a lot of stuff, a lot of talking and things like that. I think it came back and haunted them for the most part,”” Nelson said.

“”We don’t wish anything bad upon anybody because they’re still a good team,”” Nelson added. “”They’ve just had a lot of unfortunate endings like we have … that’s why we try and keep quiet and just play and let things happen.””

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