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Territorial Cup 2016: Arizona’s seniors deserve a proper sendoff

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Despite a rough season, the senior Wildcats should walk out with their heads held high

NCAA Football: Utah at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats have been terrible this year.

There's simply no other way to describe a 2-9 season where Arizona was repeatedly dominated. It's especially tough for seniors to swallow a season like this after the success they enjoyed.

This group made three straight bowl games — winning two — and won their division in 2014, going 25-15 from 2013 to 2015. They didn't exactly win major bowls, getting crushed by Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship and losing the Fiesta Bowl in a close battle with Boise State during their best year, but that doesn't negate their bowl victories in 2013 and 2015. The outgoing seniors deserve a better year than the one they got.

However, this week they have a chance to end on a high note. Winning the Duel in the Desert, while meaningless for Arizona, is a chance to end rival Arizona State's chance at a bowl game this year on top of being a rivalry win. The seniors will be pumped up and raring to go in hopes of finishing their career with a bang. It may not mean much from a national perspective, but it's a huge chance for Arizona players and fans, especially players whose careers will be ending after this game.

While it's not clear if any will turn into NFL superstars like Arizona alumni Rob Gronkowski, a few have performed well during games. Most fans will notice the yards gained by Samajie Grant and Nate Phillips. Phillips leads this year's team in receptions and led the team in receiving yards his freshman year, while Grant has matched his reduced receiving yards this year with an extra 285 rushing yards.

Arizona's defense has also relied on seniors for some backfield penetration. Paul Magloire Jr., Cody Ippolito, and Michael Barton have combined for 17 tackles for a loss and seven sacks this season, even with Ippolito tearing his ACL against Utah and Magloire missing games against UCLA and Oregon State. The trio has also recorded 112 solo tackles and 38 assisted tackles. Magloire is still one of the leading tacklers on the team despite the reduced playing time this season.

Truth be told, the Wildcats had potential and just couldn't put it all together. This was a terrible year, and it stings even worse for outgoing seniors. They'd love to get a win here, although it will be difficult with Arizona State's weak pass defense being matched by Arizona's struggling QBs. We'll just have to see if the emotion of a final game can overcome the difficulties Arizona has created for themselves all season.