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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Spoiling the Sun Devils

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Mike Christy
Mike Christy/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Football vs. ASU.

Arizona isn’t going to a bowl game this year. The Wildcats’ coaches won’t be in Tucson after this season and Arizona is likely going to finish in 12th place in a 12-team conference.

But a win against the ASU Sun Devils on Saturday can make all of that disappear, at least for a little while.

“The two cities don’t like each other,” Arizona defensive line coach Joe Salave’a said. “You always want to get a good jump at those guys. Whether it’s checkers or playing cards, when it’s Arizona versus Arizona State, you get a gratifying moment.”

Salave’a played defensive tackle at Arizona from 1994 through 1997, a stretch that saw the Wildcats take three of four games from the Sun Devils.

So while some players, like freshman defensive back Tra’Mayne Bondurant, don’t have any experience in the rivalry, they have a wealth of experience of its bitterness from the coaching staff.

Bondurant said that he didn’t pay attention to rivalry games when he was younger because he didn’t see the significance of them. But now he understands the effect they can have on schools, cities and even states.

“It takes up for a lot because this is like bragging rights for the city,” Bondurant said. “We know how our season’s been going, but this game’s very important just to get the win for the bragging rights.”

One team ruining another’s dream season is a staple of all rivalries. Salave’a was a part of the 1997 team that beat ASU in Tempe, 28-16, knocking the Sun Devils out of the Rose Bowl, and Arizona has a chance to do something similar on Saturday in the 85th Duel in the Desert.

Even though the Sun Devils sit at 6-4, they control their own destiny in the Pac-12 South Division. But an Arizona win coupled with a UCLA victory over USC would put the Bruins in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game, and safety Marquis Flowers said he’s looking forward to a having a shot to knock the Sun Devils out of the conference race.

“That’s the meaning of a rivalry,” Flowers said. “It doesn’t matter what the record is. Both teams are gonna come out and we’re going to play our hardest. It’s gonna be good.”

Flowers also said that he finds himself thinking about last year’s 30-29 heartbreaking loss to ASU. The sophomore from Phoenix said there are a couple people that play for the Sun Devils that he talks to regularly, and he’s been waiting for a shot to return the heartbreak he felt last year.

“That one hurt,” Flowers said. “We’ve got to return the favor. We’ve got to go up there and win.”

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