The Territorial Cup hasn’t stayed in Tucson since 2016. It almost did in 2018, before Arizona blew a 19-point 4th-quarter lead, and then there was that 2020 result that we just don’t talk about.
Is this the year the Arizona Wildcats (4-7, 2-6 Pac-12) break through and reclaim college football’s oldest rivalry trophy? The Arizona State Sun Devils (3-8, 2-6) enter this game having lost three in a row, and the UA is a 4-point favorite according to DraftKings SportsBook.
Who will win this matchup? Here’s what our staff thinks:
Kim Doss — Arizona wins 34-24
Jayden de Laura didn’t have his best week last week, to put it mildly. It’s been his tendency not to have two bad games in a row, though, so one would hope that won’t repeat itself. How much the continued absence of Jordan Morgan influences that is still open to question.
ASU is allowing just under 31 points per game, almost exactly what Arizona is averaging on offense. The Wildcats should be able to hit that average. On the other side of the ball, I don’t see them giving up their average of just over 36 points to Sun Devils team that putting up about 25 points per game.
Ezra Amacher — Arizona wins 40-30
Wooo, this is a tough one to predict. Arizona is the favorite and for good reason, as it has consistently been the better team this season. Whereas ASU is hit or miss, the Wildcats have a clear advantage through the air, where they rank fifth in the nation in passing yards. ASU’s defense has been torn up by the Pac-12’s upper-echelon quarterbacks. While de Laura might not be a top QB, he has a tendency to play his best with something on the line (minus last weekend).
This is the Territorial Cup, of course, which means crazy things are bound to happen. However, I suspect Arizona’s defense will do a decent job containing Emory Jones, who is less mobile than you might think — he’s ran for negative yards in four of eight games. Ultimately this game will come down to Arizona’s defense getting necessary stops and the Wildcats avoiding shooting themselves in the foot. Arizona better win this Friday or else it’s going to be a long, long offseason for Jedd Fisch.
Brandon Combs — Arizona wins 49-28
Arizona will win. The offense is too powerful, and after a down game against arguably the best defense in the conference, it will bounce back against a bad ASU defense. Yes there will be rivalry emotions but it won’t be enough. Happy Hate Week everyone!
Adam Green — Arizona wins 38-20
It’s finally here! The game many look forward to all season is upon us, and rarely has Arizona had this good of a chance to claim the Territorial Cup.
Whereas Arizona has been a surprisingly decent team this season, Arizona State is bad. The Sun Devils have some talent but coaching changes and whatnot have led them to seemingly bottom out over the last few weeks. Yes this is a team that beat Washington, but it also lost to Stanford so ...
Perhaps the best thing the Sun Devils do is run the ball, which fits right into one of the Cats’ weaknesses. However, this year’s ASU doesn’t really do anything particularly well. Their defense is struggling and their offense is not exactly imposing.
Should Arizona get off to a fast start this has the makings of one that could get sideways. If it’s competitive, the bet here is that while Arizona’s offense can win a shootout, ASU’s cannot. Jayden de Laura and his receivers are primed to bounce back in a big way, and the Cats’ suddenly competent defense should be moderately successful.
It won’t be 70-7, but the Cats are going to finish the season with a win and the Cup.
Brian J. Pedersen — Arizona wins 44-28
For the most part, this season has played out pretty much like I expected in terms of results. There were a few surprises, particularly being able to upset UCLA and underachieving against beatable Cal and Washington State teams, but by and large the Wildcats have handled the bad teams and played the good ones with mixed results.
ASU falls squarely in the ‘bad team’ category. Not as bad as Colorado, but probably not as good as the San Diego State team the UA dominated in Week 1 and which has since turned it around and is 7-4.
As the Wildcats have shown all season, they can’t be stopped on offense unless they stop themselves. ASU doesn’t have the players to change that trend, so as long as the turnovers don’t happen this should be a comfortable victory. That’s a big if, but not that Jayden de Laura seems to have his best games immediately after a poor performance, so he could be in line for a big one.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.