With bragging rights for a pair of first-year coaches on the line, Saturday’s Duel in the Desert between the Arizona Wildcats and Arizona State Sun Devils should be one of the best in the series’ storied history.
Before the 92nd Edition of the UA-ASU rivalry, we asked Brady Vernon from our sister site House of Sparky some questions about the Devils. Here’s our Q&A.
It seems like ASU has swung wildly multiple times from above to below expectations for season one of the Herm Edwards era. What’s the general mood on the season heading into Territorial Cup?
The mood going into the Territorial Cup is one of two options. One is being disappointed that there was a chance to go into this game attempting to secure the South. Every ASU loss this year has been by one score, there were plenty of opportunity to get to Santa Clara, but everyone saw in ended in Oregon. The other mood is excitement for the future, especially on defense. Recruiting seems to be going well, and this team has blown by expectations on the defensive side of the ball this season.
How much will this game dictate how 2018 is remembered in the ASU fanbase?
I believe it’s how it ends. Say if ASU loses by a touchdown or less, the topic for this season will be why couldn’t ASU win close games. It’d be a small amount of points going the difference in 6-6 and 12-0. If they win they’ll most likely be remembered as a team that exceeded preseason predictions and possibly set the standard of where Herm Edwards wants to send this program.
Eno Benjamin has become one of the best running backs in the Pac-12. How important has he been for the Sun Devil offense?
Benjamin has benefited from Edwards attempting to make ASU a more ground-and-pound team that wants to run the football. Edwards has given him the keys to become a star and he’s done just that. Benjamin’s ability to never be tackled on the first attempt, or as it seems, ignites the energy and fuels the offense at times. The offensive line has also played incredibly well this season.
Who’s a lesser-known impact player for Arizona State?
Let’s say the center Cohl Cabral. There isn’t always a ton of stats for offensive linemen, but Cabral made the switch from left tackle and has been the leader for the improved line. His play is a large reason for Benjamin’s breakout and why Manny Wilkins has stayed upright more this season.
What scares you about facing Arizona in Tucson?
It’s a rivalry game, meaning anything can happen. ASU has is 1-4 on the road this season, they generally do play better at Sun Devil Stadium. The Wildcats also probably want to forget about the Washington State loss, what better way to do that than beat the Sun Devils and earn bowl eligibility.
What does the UA-ASU rivalry mean to you?
I honestly have no heart strings tied to ASU, I just go to school here because I felt like it was the place for myself. I’m a kid from Colorado that, for whatever reason, grew up an Oregon State Beavers fan. However, my dad is a Wildcat and played a tiny bit of football there, so it’s fun to jab each other when the two teams do play each other.
What’s your score prediction for the game?
ASU wins it 31-27 because it needs to be a one-score game to finish this year.