Territorial Cup Week.
It’s always great, even when nothing is on the line. Two schools less than two hours away that trade insane asylum/Mexico barbs for no reason other than not fearing the fork or having no pity for the kitty (make sure to have just one ‘t’ in pity ASU peeps).
But in 2017, there is sort of something on the line, and that something is a much better bowl game in the form of the Sun Bowl for the winner, with the loser facing a Mountain West team in Vegas or ending up in some other random bowl around the country.
It could also mean coaches getting fired — especially on the ASU side — so there’s certainly a lot riding on Saturday afternoon’s contest in Tempe.
So how can the Arizona Wildcats get back on I-10 with its eighth win of the year and a second place finish in the Pac-12 South?
1. Green Valley
Arizona’s defensive line is going to be some piecemeal jumble of actual defensive linemen combined with possible tight ends and fullbacks, so it seems like ASU should take advantage of that wide open green valley up the middle.
It actually makes it seem more likely that ASU could somehow duplicate Arizona’s rushing output from last year (you know, 511 yards with no pass attempts in the second half). The Wildcats will need to find a way to stuff the Sun Devil running game on occasion with whoever ends up playing defensive line.
Otherwise we could see a similar performance to Oregon’s last week.
2. Catalina Foothills
Arizona needs to get back to what it does best...running the ball all the time.
When I’ve been unable to watch the Arizona games this year, I can open the box score, look at the pass:rush attempt ratio, and know whether or not the Cats won. Last week? 35 passes to 45 rushes. Result? L.
Honestly, this game should come down to which team is able to run the ball better. Arizona has better talent in those positions and has shown it can utilize its athleticism on trick plays, so I’d expect a lot of that in this game (especially with how well that worked last year).
One of the huge reasons Arizona was able to dominate ASU last year was how they were able to vail their play calling.
We saw huddles for possibly the first time in the history of Rich Rodriguez-coached football, and we’ll probably see it again.
Coach Todd Graham is notorious for sign stealing, so this was the way Arizona came up with to thwart that, and it obviously worked. Will ASU be able to stop Khalil Tate, J.J. Taylor, and whoever else if they don’t know what’s coming?
That’s what we’ll find out. If they can, then the Sun Devils will win this one. If not...well, Arizona will be 8-4.