It’s the Duel in the Desert. The Arizona Wildcats and the Arizona State Sun Devils are facing off on Friday in their annual battle for the oldest rivalry trophy in college football - the coveted Territorial Cup.
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Arizona’s Annual Duel in the Desert will be One for the History Books
It’s the rivalry event that started in 1899, and has been held between these two schools yearly since 1946 onwards. The Universities hate each other on all accounts, crossing swords annually in 20 different intercollegiate sports, but the most worthy of bragging-rights between these two schools has always been (and will always be) the Thanksgiving weekend football game.
This rivalry became notably heated in 1958 when Arizona State College was voted by the state to become a University. From that moment forward, not only did Arizona State become an official University, but an official enemy of the University of Arizona.
This is a rivalry of our fathers and of their fathers. These two can barely stand to be in the same state together, so the 1968 competition for a bowl game was out of the question. In that game, the contest was expected to be the deciding match for who would make it to the Sun Bowl that year. Before the game, Arizona Coach Darrell Mudra went to the Sun Bowl Committee to offer them an ultimatum that his team would not play in the bowl unless they were selected no matter the results of the rivalry game.
The committee chose Arizona despite the fact that the Sun Devils blew them out of their own home field that year with a final score 30-7. Because of this event, the Fiesta Bowl was born as a default bowl for Arizona State and has evolved into being a part of the highly anticipated NCAAF Championship Series.
So, who leads this series between the two Arizona foes? Well, Arizona claims it’s them who lead the way 47-39-1 since they count from the very first game in 1899. However, Arizona State calls themselves the leaders of the series as they lead 31-24-1 ever since they were announced a University receiving the same amount of state funding as Arizona, and a;sp because the game turned into an annual event beginning in that year.
Ever since the two moved from the Western Atlantic Conference to the Pacific-12 Conference, Arizona leads the series 19-16-1. The Sun Devils rose to the occasion last year and came out on top as the winner defeating the Wildcats 58-21.
Most years, the game is just for bragging rights as the best school until their next match against each other the following year, but it never has any consequential effectiveness in their seasons. This year, that’s not the case. Arizona State is currently sitting with one loss going into the game and are ranked 6th in the NCAAF Playoff rankings. They are just one of five teams that are still in control of their destiny in the future of the season.
Arizona will be coming for Sun Devil blood on Friday because they, too, have a lot on the line. The Wildcats are currently ranked No. 14 in the nation, and because they only have two losses, a win against their arch-nemesis can give them the No. 1 spot in their Southern Conference and a spot in the January bowl games.
One thing is for sure, this game will be one of the toughest yet for these opponents. We are expecting a classic Arizona rivalry showdown.