Dec 06, 2013 - 11:58 pm - With the Pac-12 Championship Game upon us, the digital universe has been flooded with pictures and imagery from fans and players of both universities. We've scoured our feeds the last couple days for pictures that capture the hype and excitement of tomorrows Arizona State-Stanford match-up in Sun Devil Stadium.
Sun Devil fans are coming together like never before. And while they're smelling roses the Stanford Cardinal, last year's Pac-12 and Rose Bowl Champions, have entered Tempe with the confidence of a top national program that has sustained its success.
Despite much of Sun Devil Stadium being covered with Pac-12 signage and despite the low temperatures and chance of rain, this game is in the "House of Heat". Supporters of the Maroon & Gold will be out in full force, hungry to push their Sun Devils over the top in this final game. If they do, ASU and Sun Devil Nation will head back to Pasadena for the marquee 100th "Grandaddy of them All".
Dec 04, 2013 - 04:01 pm -
Tempe, AZ – Sun Devil offensive lineman Christian Westerman quietly goes about his business every day.
Putting in the same amount of time and hard work as his teammates, he patiently waits his turn to play at ASU.
A highly rated local recruit, Westerman transferred to ASU to be closer to family and make a contribution to the hometown Sun Devils. He was also attracted to the new culture that Todd Graham is building in Tempe and saw a bright future for the program.
Although ineligible to play this season, he’s not surprised at the team’s success this year.
“I knew this team had the talent, it was just a matter of putting everything together,” Westerman said. “One of the main reasons behind our success has been our strength and conditioning. Guys have gotten stronger and faster as the season has progressed. We also have great leaders on the team and a lot of players have stepped up this season.”
A talented player who is also hyper-competitive, Westerman is craving to help on game day. Seeing his team have so much success makes him proud and happy, and he is doing whatever he can to contribute until he can play next season.
OL Christian Westerman after the 2013 spring game.
“I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help this team. Right now, I’m on the scout team every week, so I’m able to contribute and help get the team prepared.”
There is no doubt that having a 5-star offensive lineman on the scout team has certainly made Will Sutton, Carl Bradford and Jaxon Hood better each week as they prepare for their next opponent.
Looking ahead to next season, the Sun Devils will lose senior offensive linemen, Evan Finkenberg and Kody Koebensky. Westerman is ready, willing and able to step in and fill the gap.
When asked what he will bring to the table in 2014, he responded, “The number one thing is aggressiveness. I like to be very physical and knock my guy off the line and take him down. I look forward to next season and being able to contribute on game day.”
For now, Westerman knows he is doing all he can to help the 2013 Sun Devils reach their goal of a Pac-12 Championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl.
#55 is ready to have a BIG impact in 2014.
Dec 03, 2013 - 04:51 pm - This season will be only the third Pac-12 Championship Game in history, but it will be the first in which both participants have a top-12 BCS ranking. No. 7 Stanford (10-2, 7-2 in Pac-12) will play No. 11 Arizona State (10-2, 8-1 in Pac-12) at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. Even though the teams have the best average rank of participants in the short history of the game, this will be the least expensive Pac-12 Championship Game to date.
Unlike other most major conference tournaments, the Pac-12 doesn’t have a set location for it’s tournament, but gives home field advantage to the participant with the best conference record. As we’re seeing here, that means cheaper tickets because it’s harder to plan a trip around the event. In fact, the location this season wasn’t decided until the last regular season game, which they did with a decisive 58-12 win over in-state rival Arizona.
This is not only Arizona State’s first time as a host for the Pac-12 Championship Game, it’s their first time in the game as the winner of the South division. This is technically a home game for the Sun Devils, and that’s what Arizona State fans are treating it as. Based on the latest data from TiqIQ, the average price for Pac 12 Championship tickets is $119, which is just above the Sun Devils season average of $104. By comparison, their game last week against Arizona had an average price of $147. This is also the cheapest of the big three conference championship games this weekend. Prices are currently 49% below Big TEN Championship tickets, and 70% below SEC Championship tickets.
Get tickets to the 2013 PAC-12 Championship Game - Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium, TEMPE, AZ
One big reason for the low average price is that no many Cardinal fans will be there.Those that do decide to make the trip will have to travel over 700 miles. Last season when Stanford hosted and won the Pac-12 Championship Game, the average ticket price was $144.53. That’s almost double the regular season average for Stanford football tickets this season and 13% above the cost of this year’s championship game.
Although ticket prices were more expensive last season on the secondary market, anyone looking for a last minute ticket could have walked up to make their purchase. Attendance for the 2012 Pac-12 Championship Game was only 31,622 in Stanford Stadium, which holds a capacity of 50,000. Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe holds over 71,000 people, and it will be interesting to see what percentage of seats they fill. The 2011 game held at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon had an average price of $151 and was sold out, and then some. The game drew 59,000 for the 54,000-capacity Autzen Stadium. That, however, is the norm for Oregon football tickets since the stadium’s expansion in 2002.
Another factor contributing to the low average price for the Pac 12 game is that Stanford fans are likely saving their money for a trip to Pasadena to play in the Rose Bowl. The current average price for Rose Bowl tickets is $856 and Pasadena, California is equidistant to the two schools–380 miles from Tempe and 360 miles from Stanford. For the Cardinal, the Rose Bowl is familiar territory, as they won the Rose Bowl last season by defeating the Wisconsin Badgers. Arizona State, on the other hand, has not made an appearance in Pasadena since 1996 and has not won since 1987. As a result of all that pent-up demand, we expected that prices would move a little higher if Arizona State emerges victorious in the Pac-12 Championship.
In addition to the opportunity for a trip to the Rose Bowl, a Sun Devils win would extend the host-team winning in the Pac-12 championship. It would also be a major step toward bringing the Arizona State program back to relevance after almost 20 years of mediocrity. For fans attending the game this weekend, that alone would be worth the price of admission.
Dec 02, 2013 - 04:45 pm - BACK 2 BACK
DieHard Storyline Results from Game 12
Tempe, AZ – The 2013 Territorial Cup will stay in Tempe for another year.
On Saturday night, the #11 Arizona State Sun Devils went to work and dominated the Arizona Wildcats in front of a sold out crowd at Sun Devil Stadium.
There was plenty of hype heading into the game after Arizona beat top ranked Oregon the previous week, along with ASU trying to secure home field advantage for the Pac-12 Championship game.
The Sun Devils came out determined, focused and prepared to dismantle the Wildcats, and that's exactly what they did.
Here’s how the DieHard Storyline played out in the 2013 Territorial Cup.
* * *
Does Foster + Lewis = Grice? (No, but Foster & Nelson Does)
“DJ Foster will attempt to match Grice’s production, both rushing and receiving out of the backfield. A healthy dose of RB Deantre Lewis will be needed to manage the number of carries Foster gets between the tackles. It will also allow D.J. to line up in his customary slot position where he presents a tremendous match-up advantage for ASU.” – DieHard Storyline
Any concerns about whether or not D.J. Foster could step in for Marion Grice were erased by the end of the first quarter. Foster came out fast and furious and finished the game with 23 carries for 123 yards and 2 touchdowns. However, the other impact player in the backfield wasn’t Deantre Lewis who left the game with an injury, it was 6’3” / 230 lb DeMarieya Nelson. Nelson provided power in short yardage situations with much success (8 carries / 35 yards / 1 TD).
DeMarieya Nelson brings athletic power to ASU's Offense
Contain the 1-2 Punch of Carey & Denker (Carey Provided the Only Punch)
“The ASU defense will have its hands full containing running back Ka’Deem Carey. He is explosive out of the backfield, and the Wildcats will be relying on him heavily tonight. Containing BJ Denker in the pocket is no easy task. He is very prone to taking off with the ball for yardage or throwing on the run. Forcing Denker to throw under duress and keeping him pinched in the pocket will go a long way in stalling the Wildcat offense.” – DieHard Storyline
Ka’Deem Carey got his yards (32 carries / 157 yards / 1 TD) but didn’t have much of an impact until the second half. Carey was visibly frustrated as the Sun Devil defense stopped the Wildcats on 3 fourth down attempts. Although he broke loose for a few big gains, QB BJ Denker was contained for the majority of the game. Will Sutton and Carl Bradford applied plenty of pressure to either sack Denker or force him to make ill advised throws. Defensive backs (Alden Darby, Osahon Irabor & Damarious Randall) had 3 interceptions, but none was bigger than Randall's pick-six which stole any momentum that UA had built in the game.
ASU's Chris Young attacks UA RB Ka'Deem Carey
* * *
The Sun Devils are hitting their stride at the right time, and their confidence is at an all time high. And now, something we thought was impossible a few weeks ago has happened. ASU is hosting the Pac-12 Championship game at Sun Devil Stadium this Saturday. #7 Stanford is the last team remaining between the Sun Devils and the Rose Bowl.
Dec 01, 2013 - 03:17 pm - Territorial Cup Controversy #1 - Sun Devil Stadium Vandalism (1958)
With all of the hype and implications of last night's rivalry, ASU and UofA fans could be debating at this moment questionable game-changing calls by the officials, confusing discrepancies on the field or even worse, drama and wranglings off the field. But this years installment of the Duel in the Desert avoided all debate. Instead, two teams that hate each other played a football game in which one absolutely, unequivocally dominated the other. And for the second straight year, Arizona State won the oldest trophy in college football.
So, the most controversial moment in Territorial Cup History and one that fathered the current level of hate between both schools stands undisputed. Surprisingly, that moment didn’t happen during a game – though it did occur on the field.
Proposition 200, a 1958 Arizona referendum with widespread support in the Phoenix area, would officially change the name of then-Arizona State College to Arizona State University. But many in Tucson wanted UA to remain the state’s only university.
Just weeks before Election Day, several Wildcat students or alumni (who were never apprehended) broke into the brand-new Sun Devil Stadium and burned “No 200” in the middle of the field, just days before the first-ever football game was to be played there.
Despite the vandalism, Prop 200 passed by a 2-to-1 margin – and in Frank Kush’s first year as ASU head coach, the Devils toppled the Cats 47-0 in Tucson.
In the next day’s Arizona Republic, an ASU fan was quoted as saying, “We won this one like we won 200.” But “No 200” was forever burned into ASU-UA history, and it made the rivalry more personal than ever.
Will this 1958 controversy ever be de-throned as the most significant event in the ASU-UA rivalry?
“Most of us at this stage had been playing 7-8 years of football and played in some pretty intense championship games – but that kind of thing, we’d never experienced that. It was, in my judgment, kind of a juvenile thing to do.”
-ASU fullback and linebacker Ron Erhardt (1955-58)
Shane Dale is the author “Territorial: The History of the Duel in the Desert.“
Dec 01, 2013 - 01:25 pm - The Devils prepare to break their 10th rock of 2013
Tempe, AZ – There was plenty of buzz in the air and plenty at stake when the Sun Devils and Wildcats took the field for their Territorial Cup battle on Saturday night. Fans packed Sun Devil Stadium to see if ASU could claim victory, keep the cup and earn home field advantage for their Pac-12 championship game with Stanford next week. The Sun Devils got the job done by beating the Wildcats 58-21, to finish with 10 wins on the regular season and keep the Territorial Cup in Tempe.
The Sun Devils received the opening kickoff and chewed up some clock early with a 13 play, 54 yard drive that took 4:37. They could only manage a Zane Gonzalez field goal to take an early lead 3-0. The ASU defense also set the tone early with two sacks and good pressure on Wildcat QB BJ Denker. On their next possession, the Devils marched down the field again, but had to settle for another Gonzalez field goal increasing their lead to 6-0. After the ASU defense held again, Taylor Kelly hit Darwin Rogers on a beautiful play call by Mike Norvell for a 38 yard wide open score along the sideline in front of the student section. End of the first quarter, ASU 13 – UA 0.
The Sun Devil defense continued their solid play and held the Wildcats on two fourth downs. D.J. Foster was on a mission in the first half and scored on a 14 yard TD run to increase the ASU lead to 20-0 with 12:58 left in the half. DeMarieya Nelson followed that up with a powerful one yard TD run, and ASU was in complete control, 27-0. The Wildcats finally put together a respectable drive capped off by BJ Denker squirming his way into the endzone to get the Cats on the board. After a 50 yard bomb to Jaelen Strong, Zane Gonzalez tacked on another field goal before the half. Total yards for both teams at the break: ASU 314 / UA 211.
Halftime Score: ASU 17 – UA 10
After the break, the Wildcats came out determined and put together a 7 play, 75 yard drive capped off by an 8 yard Ka’Deem Carey touchdown. At this point, Taylor Kelly and the ASU offense had trouble finding their rhythm, but they didn’t need to. Damarious Randall intercepted a BJ Denker pass and returned it 64 yards and a pick six. That was a big momentum swing in the game as ASU increased their lead to 37-14 and never looked back. The Cats put together another scoring drive, but the Sun Devils countered with a 61 yard bomb from Taylor Kelly to Jaelen Strong. ASU was in control at the end of the third quarter 44-21.
The Sun Devils didn’t take their foot off the pedal in the final quarter as DJ Foster hammered his way into the endzone on a determined 7 yard scoring run. ASU led 51-21 with 13:17 left in the game. Later, the Devils put a final nail in the coffin with a one yard DeMarieya Nelson TD run. The Sun Devils finished with a total of 478 yards (274 passing / 204 rushing). The Wildcats finished with 424 total yards (175 passing / 249 rushing).
The Undisputed Champions
Nov 30, 2013 - 05:36 pm -
Tempe, AZ - The Duel in the Desert is upon us, and things just got a bit more meaningful after both programs had defining wins last week.
ASU clinched the Pac-12 South with its win against Ucla, and has a chance to host the Pac-12 championship game with a victory today. The Wildcats won big over Oregon, and will be looking to play spoiler to the Sun Devil hosting party. As if bragging rights in the state weren’t enough, now this game holds national rankings and Rose Bowl implications.
Above and beyond all of the moving parts for tonight's game, our Diehard Storyline comes down to a pair of critical issues for the Devils to #KeepTheCup.
Does Foster + Lewis = Grice?
Offensively, ASU will be without its biggest weapon in RB Marion Grice who was injured at UCLA. D.J. Foster will attempt to match Grice’s production, both rushing and receiving out of the backfield.
A healthy dose of RB Deantre Lewis will be needed to manage the number of carries Foster gets between the tackles. It will also allow D.J. to line up in his customary slot position where he presents a tremendous match-up advantage for ASU. This game, more than any other, will require the offensive line to own the trenches to open up more space for Foster and Lewis.
QB Taylor Kelly used the ASU version of the triple option effectively in the rivalry game last season. Look for more deception, misdirection and formations that we haven’t seen from Offensive Coordinator Mike Norvell in tonight’s game.
Contain the 1-2 Punch of Carey & Denker
ASU's “Hell’s Gate” defense will have its hands full containing running back Ka’Deem Carey. He is explosive out of the backfield, and the Wildcats will be relying on him heavily tonight. I foresee some new looks from the ASU front seven, including stacking the box and forcing QB BJ Denker to beat them with his arm.
However, containing Denker in the pocket is no easy task. He is very prone to taking off with the ball for yardage or throwing on the run. He also likes to roll out to the left side. The ASU “Bird Gang” defensive backs need to be cognizant of where the line of scrimmage is before leaving counterparts to stop Denker. To prevent explosive plays, better fundamental tackling than last week is a must tonight.
Forcing Denker to throw under duress and keeping him pinched in the pocket will go a long way in stalling the Wildcat offense. Fans can also expect to see some new wrinkles on UA's offense from Coach Rich Rodriquez.
ASU's defense has struggled with the run against opponents who lined up in double tight end formations. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Wildcats try to replicate that and keep an extra blocker at the line of scrimmage to help against the attack-minded front seven of ASU. There will be a subtle chess match behind the scenes of what is sure to be another nasty brawl that has come to define this Territorial Cup series for decades.
* * *
Turnovers have historically been a huge factor in deciding the game winner in this rivalry. Momentum for either side can also carry a team to victory. Furthermore, special teams can be a significant factor since this game has been decided by a touchdown or less in the last four meetings.
Plenty of subplots will play out tonight at Sun Devil Stadium, and if the Devils can win the Cup twice in two years, they will also host Stanford on December 7, a development that gives ASU an added advantage to get to the promised land in Pasadena.
Sun Devil Athletics @TheSunDevils - A sea of gold to protect our territory and help keep the cup! #AZvsASU
Nov 30, 2013 - 04:17 pm - We see you, Sun Devil Nation.
Today is the essence of College Football, and we're drinking it up. There's a sea of gold bursting at the seams across the country today. The pre-game hype and tension could be cut with a Fork.
Earlier this week, we narrowed down our favorite Instagram and Tweeted images that captured the fever of the Duel in the Desert in the days building up to the Big Game. The response from our readers was big.
So today, we thought we'd do the same. We've searched high & low for the best imagery that has shot across social media in the last few hours. We've even thrown in a couple videos. The ASU/UA rivalry and tonight's Territorial Cup game has reached a fever pitch.
Nov 30, 2013 - 03:08 pm - Senior Alden Darby
Tempe, AZ – Senior Day was invented for guys like Alden Darby.
His leadership this season has been priceless. He picked up where Brandon Magee left off last year.
A respected veteran and leader of the Sun Devil defense, Darby is the vocal sparkplug who has enfused high energy every day in practice and more importantly, on game day. Nicknamed “Ballhawk,” Darby studied under Omar Bolden and is now passing the defensive back torch to stud freshman, Marcus Ball.
But #4's not done.
* * *
DHD: It’s hard to believe your Sun Devil career is coming to an end, what’s been on your mind going into this final game of the regular season?
AD: “It went by too fast. The City of Tempe, Arizona State University and all the fans have been really good to me. It’s sad that it’s coming to an end, but everything good doesn’t last forever.”
2012: Darby as a Junior with Brandon Magee as a Senior
DHD: What kind of impact has Coach Graham had on you as a player, person and a man?
AD: “When Coach Graham came in, it helped me build character on and off the field, and helped me become a better man in life in general. Playing for him taught me that life is more than just football. It’s about school, the community and helping others.”
DHD: How does it feel to be the Pac-12 south champs and what can this team still accomplish?
AD: “Being Pac-12 South Champions is not an accomplishment. Being the overall Pac-12 Champion is our goal. To be that champion, you had to win the south. We haven’t done anything yet, we want to be Pac-12 Champs and win the Rose Bowl.”
A Complete Sun Devil
DHD: What will be going through your mind on Senior Day and the Territorial Cup game?
AD: “I don’t plan on this being my last game at Sun Devil Stadium. Ka'deem Carey is a great back, but we have the #1 defense in the conference, and he has to come through us.”
* * *
If you get to your seats prior to kickoff today, you can applaud Alden Darby and each Sun Devil Senior as they are introduced before their final homegame. Strike that -- we're in sync with Darby. This will be their second to last game in House of Heat.
It's time to defeat UofA. ForksUp
SUN DEVIL for LIFE
Nov 30, 2013 - 01:04 pm - It’s the first time that both teams have had at least seven wins heading into the Territorial Cup since 1986. There are Rose Bowl implications for the Sun Devils, and possibly Heisman Trophy implications for UA’s star tailback.
This year’s Territorial Cup game is more important than it has been in a long time – longer than most players on both teams have been alive.
Here’s what to watch for as the 2013 Duel in the Desert gets underway on Saturday night.
The Sun Devils
If Marion Grice is unable to play, it evens out the talent level between the two teams significantly. While D.J. Foster and Deantre Lewis are capable backups, they haven’t contributed nearly 2,000 yards from scrimmage like Grice has. It’s hard to replace that kind of production overnight.
ASU has the better quarterback in Taylor Kelly and the better receiving core, but all-time UA rushing leader Ka’Deem Carey is such an equalizer in this category, and Wildcat quarterback B.J. Denker – who, incidentally, leads all Pac-12 QBs with 811 rushing yards – is coming off a 19-for-22 passing performance against Oregon. Freshman wideout Nate Phillips has emerged as a capable No. 1 receiver and is talented enough to give the veteran ASU secondary some trouble.
In the trenches, both offensive lines are capable veteran units – and don’t underestimate Carey’s blocking ability, one of the more underrated aspects of his game.
Advantage: ASU (with Grice), even (without Grice).
With seven senior starters at their disposal, UA head coach Rich Rodriguez noted that the Devils have one of the most experienced defensive units in the country. That experience shone through last weekend as Will Sutton, Carl Bradford, and Chris Young were a nightmare for UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley, who was sacked seven times.
In Tucson, UA defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel has done a remarkable job in improving a defense that was ranked in the bottom 10 in the FBS in many statistical categories last season. In fact, the Wildcats have allowed just two more points than the Devils have in Pac-12 play.
With veterans such as safeties Tra’Mayne Bondurant and Jared Tevis in the secondary and Jake Fischer at linebacker, and newcomers such as freshman linebacker (and this year’s Territorial Cup Award Winner for Best Name) Scooby Wright getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, this battle is more even than it may appear at first glance.
Advantage: ASU. Experience matters, especially in the Duel the Desert.
Both units have struggled recently. The Sun Devils’ special-teams play had an awful day at UCLA, and it almost cost ASU the game, while UA senior kicker Jake Smith missed 2 of 3 field-goal attempts two weeks ago in a loss to Washington State.
The Wildcats are better than ASU in yards per punt and return yards per punt. On the other hand, Smith has made just 12 of 18 field goal attempts this season, while freshman kicker Zane Gonzalez has been phenomenal, connecting on 19 of 22 attempts.
Phillips and fellow UA wideout Johnny Jackson have shared punt return duties, and both have muffed multiple punts. In a game that always features a bizarre special-teams moment, RichRod may be well-suited to instruct his team to let each ASU punt fall to the ground untouched.
Advantage: Even. Neither unit is especially impressive, but ASU would seem to have the edge in a last-second field-goal situation.
Match-ups to watch:
When UA has the ball: Denker’s new-found ability to complete a high percentage of his passes keeps opposing defenses honest enough to allow Carey to do his thing. Phillips’ emergence in the latter half of the season has had much to do with that.
Phillips will presumably be matched up with senior cornerback Osahon Irabor on Saturday. If Phillips, who has scored a touchdown in six of UA’s last seven games, can consistently shake Irabor (or whoever may be covering him), it will add an entirely different dimension to UA’s offense.
Regardless of what Carey does – if the Devils hold Phillips scoreless and under 50 yards receiving, they probably win.
When ASU has the ball: The Wildcats absolutely, positively must find a way to get pressure on Kelly. While the junior can beat you with his feet or with throws on the run to star wideout Jaelen Strong, tight end Chris Coyle and others, he has been known to make bad decisions from time to time, as he’s thrown 10 interceptions this season.
UA must consistently flush Kelly out of the pocket. If he completes passes or picks up first downs on the ground, so be it. But the Wildcats must at least give him the opportunity to make mistakes.
As far as forecasting a winner, there are two ways to approach this game. If you go by statistics, ASU wins. If you go by recent history, UA wins.
The road team has won the last four Territorial Cup games and 13 of the last 21. The team with the worst record has won each of the last three. The last time that the talent gap between the two schools was this big was in 2004, when ASU was 8-2 and UA (in Mike Stoops’ first year as head coach) was 2-8. The result of that year’s game in Tucson? Wildcats 34, Devils 27.
But the Sun Devils are dialed in on both sides of the ball like they haven’t been since their 1996 Rose Bowl season – and thanks to UA’s pummeling of Oregon last weekend, not to mention Todd Graham’s appreciation of the history of this rivalry, there’s not a chance that anyone on their roster will be taking the Wildcats lightly.
It will be a close game, and probably lower-scoring than most people think, simply because these games rarely follow the script that they’re supposed to. But despite the fight that the young Wildcats, led by their workhorse tailback, will put up in Tempe, the home-team Territorial Cup losing streak will officially end around 11pm on Saturday.
ASU 23, UA 20 (on a last-second Gonzalez field goal)
Shane Dale is the author “Territorial: The History of the Duel in the Desert.“
Nov 29, 2013 - 11:51 pm -
Sun Devil Fans,
It's time for my weekly prediction of how I think our Sun Devils will do in the Territorial Cup game against the Wildcats. So let's begin.
ASU's defense must try to contain Kadeem Carey, who's probably the best running back in the country. Carey had 48 carries last week against Oregon. He will probably have 30 to 40 carries against ASU. He will also probably get between 100-150 yards rushing. The key for the ASU defense is don't let him go crazy on you like Trung Candidate did in 1998. Make Carey work for his yardage. Also, with that many carries on back to back weeks comes fatigue. With fatigue comes the more likelihood of a fumble or two. When he puts it on the ground, ASU MUST recover the fumble. No missed opportunities for a turnover in this game.
The ASU defense must catch the ball when B.J. Denker misses his receivers. No dropped interceptions. ASU's defense needs to contain Denker in the pocket. He is not as effective inside the pocket as he is outside of it. Don't let Denker roll left, break containment and get outside of the tackle box where he can hurt you running or passing. If ASU can keep Denker in the pocket, then he is less accurate throwing the football, and the likelihood of an interception goes up. ASU's defensive front must get a push against Arizona's offensive line, or it could be a long night.
Special Teams will be crucial yet again in the Territorial Cup
Taylor Kelly had a great game last week. He was very accurate throwing the football, and made good decisions when pulling the ball and running it on the read option. He needs to have the same type of game tonight for ASU. The offensive line needs to control the line of scrimmage against a much improved Wildcat defense from 2012. If they can, then I see ASU scoring in at least the 30's, maybe even the 40's.
ASU's running backs are a concern mainly because it doesn't sound like Marion Grice will play. It's time for D.J. Foster and Deantre Lewis to step up and show everybody that they can carry the load in Grice's absence. I know there have been concerns with Deantre Lewis this year with his fumbling. He needs to have ball security as his number one priority tonight. Anyone who's been around this rivalry for any amount of time knows that the team that turns the ball over the least, usually wins this game. I firmly believe that ASU is the better team, however, it's a rivalry game and none of that matters.
I've followed this rivalry since 1970. A lot of these games have been decided by a special teams play, one way or the other. I don't think ASU needs to win this game with special teams, just don't lose it with a special teams play. The keys for victory tomorrow night are as follows:
1) Start fast, if ASU gets off to a good start, then the sold out Sun Devil Stadium will become a hornets nest. It's not easy to play here as a visiting team when that environment exists. It's important to get an early lead and keep the pressure on the Wildcats.
2) Limit turnovers to no more than one. As I stated earlier, the team that turns it over the least, usually wins this game.
3) Don't get beat on special teams. It's important for ASU to be sound in special teams. Don't get a kick blocked, don't muff a punt, don't give up a big return. Once again, you don't need to win the game on special teams, just don't lose it on special teams.
With all that being said, ASU is the better team and they just need to go prove it tonight! ASU 34 Arizona 24 Go Sun Devils!
Nov 29, 2013 - 10:54 pm -
It’s rivalry week and the final regular season match-ups in the Pac-12.
Two Pac-12 games were played on Friday between the Washington schools and the Oregon schools. At home, the Huskies took back the “Apple Cup” from the Cougars, winning 27-17. And in Autzen, the “Civil War” came down to the final minute when the Ducks scored a touchdown to secure a narrow 36-35 victory over the Beavers.
After locking up the South division last week, the Sun Devils now control their own destiny in the quest for the Rose Bowl. But in an unexpected twist, this week provides some intrigue, including the possibility of ASU hosting the Pac-12 championship in Tempe. There are also some other interesting match-ups throughout the conference, but none as big as the one in Tempe Saturday night.
Arizona @ #12 Arizona State
This game is huge on so many fronts. It is the last regular season game for both programs. It could be the last home game for ASU seniors, yet it is also opportunity for the Devils to host one more game at Sun Devil Stadium for the right to go to the Rose Bowl.
Then there is the battle for the Territorial Cup, the oldest rivalry trophy in the country. The Wildcats come to town confident after putting a whooping on Oregon last week at home. However, ASU has had their own quiet confidence all season. Saturday night will be no different.
It looks as if ASU running back Marion Grice will not be available for the game, which is a huge blow. On offense, the game plan will be a little different without Grice, but the Devils have enough firepower to take down the Cats at home. On the other side of the ball, the proud Sun Devil D have the task of disrupting the effectiveness of UA running back Ka’Deem Carey, who is one of the best in all of college football.
The Devils are favored by 10.5 points, which is a large spread for a rivalry game. I think ASU will win, but it will be another nail biter.
#25 Notre Dame @ #8 Stanford
On the surface this game doesn’t seem that important since Stanford has already clinched the Pac-12 North. However, on closer inspection this game is huge. There are a lot of teams ranked in the Top 10 that play this week.
A Stanford win combined with a couple of a loss or two by other top teams could put them around #5 in the BCS rankings as they enter the conference championship game vs ASU. Ideally, Stanford will avenge last years controversial loss to the Irish but have a tough battle that wears players down and expose some weaknesses that would hamper them against the Sun Devils. Stanford is favored by 14.5 points.
#22 UCLA @ #23 USC
This one will be fun to watch. Both teams hate each other; both teams lost to ASU; and both teams sit back-to-back in the polls. The Trojans are 3 point favorites here and I think they will pull off this win that seemed almost impossible six weeks ago.
Expect the Bruins to come out flat, still feeling the sting of losing the Pac-12 South division to the Sun Devils. On the other hand, the Trojans are playing inspired football under their interim coach Ed Orgeron. Most of the fans and players want Coach “O” to become the permanent head coach. With a win against their cross town rival combined with their new-found success, it would be an unpopular move to deny Orgeron the job.
Colorado @ Utah
There’s not much to say here. Neither team will be going to a bowl game, and the Pac-12‘s newest programs are still fighting for relevance. Utah is favored by 16.5 at home.
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As families across the Pac-12 conference gather to give thanks this weekend, Sun Devils fans can be thankful that they have already locked up the South division, and now have the shot to host the Pac-12 championship game by defeating their bitter rival on Saturday night.