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Will the 2017 Territorial Cup be decided by a missed field goal?

Raise your hand if you’re rooting for that

Arizona State kicker Brandon Ruiz makes a field goal against UCLA, Nov 10, in Pasadena, Calif.
Tony Capobianco photo

Rivalry week after Thanksgiving is up there among the best traditions in sports. You can throw out the records when your favorite team takes on your most hated team.

I know it sounds like a cliché but a two-win Arizona Wildcats team defeated the heavily-favored Arizona State Sun Devils in 2011 and 2016. So at least it’s not an empty cliché.

There are many ways a rivalry game can be memorable, but nothing tops missing the last second field goal. It guarantees a close, exciting game and you laugh at the other team for missing it.

Will this year’s Territorial Cup be decided by a missed field goal in the final second and who is rooting for that to happen?

The rivalry that is most connected to missed field goals is Miami vs. Florida State. Hell, “Wide Right” is a trilogy in Tallahassee.

However, when I think about the Territorial Cup, I can’t help but think about whether or not this game will be a battle for the position to make or miss the game winning field goal.

It’s happened before. In fact, Alex Zendejas comes most to mind. In 2009, he made the game-winner in Tempe but in 2010, an extra point that would’ve won the game and an extra point that would prolong overtime got blocked.

One could say that 2010 was one of the worst ways to ever lose a rivalry game. It wasn’t until 2015 where he found redemption on the football field. Albeit it came in the Arena Football League playoffs with the Arizona Rattlers.

Ray Finkle is a name most connected with big time missed field goals. In the movie “Ace Ventura” Finkle missed the last second field goal that would’ve won Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins Super Bowl XIX against the San Francisco 49ers. Finkle blamed Marino for holding the ball with the laces in and went into a crazed-filled revenge plan that involved an overly done disguise and the kidnapping of Marino and Snowflake the Dolphin.

I interviewed the actual Dolphins kicker based on Finkle a year ago for the Enid News & Eagle. While that Super Bowl was his last game as an NFL kicker, it wasn’t nearly as close. He was roommates with Marino at the beginning of the Hall of Famer’s career but was in no position to blame him for anything.

He told a funny joke about the kicker who tried to commit suicide after missing a potential game winning field goal, “but was wide left.”

Both Arizona and ASU enter Saturday’s game already bowl eligible, but Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic writes that Arizona State head coach Todd Graham will be coaching for his job. Last year was supposed to be the loser-leaves-town matchup between Graham and Rich Rodriguez but this year might be it after all.

How wonderful would it be for Wildcat fans if a Zendejas-like shank cost the Sun Devils the game and Graham his job?

I’m sure it would be worth all the Thanksgiving heartburn.