It’s finally Territorial Cup time.
The Arizona Wildcats (8-3, 6-2 Pac-12) won back the Cup last year in Tucson, doing so for the first time since 2016. Now comes a chance to retain it for the first time since 2008-09, but for that to happen it has to win in Tempe for the first time since 2011.
ASU (3-8, 2-6) has won the last five meetings on its home field, most recently a 38-15 victory in 2021.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Arizona is a 10.5-point favorite. Who takes this matchup? Here’s what our staff thinks.
Kim Doss — Arizona wins 35-24
The old “throw the records out for a rivalry game” cliche is going to be used a lot before this game. It’s how to keep people’s interest in a game where one team is good and the other is...not. It’s just not generally true. There are always exceptions to the rule, but the rule is the rule for a reason. And it should be on Saturday.
Arizona scores 32 points per game. ASU scores 17. Arizona gives up 21 points per game. ASU gives up 29. Arizona has gained about 500 more yards on the ground this season. It has roughly 700 more through the air. It has 44 touchdowns to ASU’s 22. There just isn’t really anything to point at that tilts this in the Sun Devils’ favor except that they get to play at home. It may be enough for ASU to hang around for a bit. There’s maybe a chance it keeps Arizona from covering the spread, but that should be it.
Brandon Combs — Arizona wins 49-17
The T-Cup is always difficult to predict. This season feels a little different. ASU may be getting Jaden Rashada back, but that may not be enough. Rashada hasn’t played live football since the beginning of the season. And throwing him out there with a mostly piece-meal offensive line doesn’t seem that great of an offensive strategy. Arizona will need to be able to react to different formations and not fall prey to crazy play-calling that UCLA did. I’m not certain ASU will be able to run the ball against Arizona either, which is why I think that ASU will try to get cute.
Now, on the other side, Arizona’s offense isn’t like UCLA’s in the slightest. ASU has had some better than expected defensive performances, but as many teams have found out, it doesn’t matter much when Arizona’s playmakers are fresh in the 4th quarter. Jonah Coleman busted his biggest run of the afternoon against Utah in the 4th. ASU doesn’t have that type of depth on defense, let alone offense. That, coupled with Arizona’s overall talent, will be to much for that school up north.
Ezra Amacher — Arizona wins 38-24
This is a hard game to predict because it’s impossible to know which ASU team will show up. The Sun Devils have been difficult to peg down this season. One week they’re leading Washington in the fourth quarter in Seattle, another week they’re getting run off the field by Utah. ASU is coming off a putrid 49-13 loss to Oregon in a game that wasn’t even as close as the score suggests. But the week before, the Sun Devils held UCLA to a touchdown in a stunning win at the Rose Bowl.
While I expect Arizona to come out focused and hungry to win, I have a feeling ASU is going to keep this game close well into the second half. Ultimately Arizona’s offense, particularly Jonah Coleman and Tetairoa McMillan, will overwhelm the Sun Devils and give the Cats a sweet victory in Tempe a dozen years in the making.
Adam Green — Arizona wins 34-13
Some will tell you that in rivalry games anything can happen and it’s important to throw out the records. That makes sense, but only to a point.
Generally speaking, at least in this rivalry when one of the teams is significantly better than the other the superior team comes out on top. And make no mistake, Arizona is a much better team than ASU.
The Sun Devils have been banged up all season and might be a bit healthier for this one, but it really shouldn’t matter. Years of poor (no?) recruiting have decimated the roster while on the other side Arizona has built one of the best teams in the conference, if not the country. The Wildcats are playing really well and have given no indication of being the kind of team that will overlook anyone or rest on their laurels.
Arizona is better in every facet of the game and while the Sun Devils will certainly give it their best shot, the truth is their best isn’t any good. Assuming the Wildcats don’t play their worst game in months with penalties, turnovers, drops and the like this one shouldn’t be all that close.
Devin Homer — Arizona wins 31-17
Arizona is the superior team coming into the matchup but rivalry games are always closer than what people expect.
If Oregon State wins on Friday and leaves the door open for UA to make the Pac-12 championship game, Arizona will come out and play with pure intensity and passion.
UA has a lot more to play for than ASU so not letting the rivalry get the best of them and remember this is another step to the end goal, a bowl game win or a possible chance at a Pac-12 championship.
Brian J. Pedersen — Arizona wins 30-16
Everyone associated with Arizona wants and hopes for a carbon copy of the 2020 game, but the 2021 edition is probably more how this game will go.
ASU is in bad shape, but not as bad as the Wildcats were at the end of the Kevin Sumlin era. More like the tail end of the first year under Jedd Fisch, when the UA was clearly outmanned but still put up a good fight for a while.
The Sun Devils have nothing to play for other than to ruin Arizona’s day, and that could be doubly true if Oregon State takes care of business on Friday and leaves the door open for a Pac-12 title game spot.
Because there will be at least one more game after this for the UA, it has to play with a mentality that there’s bigger goals beyond holding onto the Cup. Treat this like a business trip and don’t give ASU any extra thought.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.