Recap Week 13 ASU vs UA: The Territorial Cup Trophy is back in Tempe!

Arizona State (7-5, 5-4 Pac-12) beats #24 Arizona (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12): 41-34 in Tucson.

A triumphant return: the Territorial Cup trophy comes back to Tempe.

The Arizona State Sun Devils beat the University of Arizona Wildcats 41-34 in the Territorial Cup on Friday.

In a signature win for Todd Graham’s first season as head coach of the Sun Devils, ASU beat in-state rival UA in what was the biggest game of the year to many members of the team (and Sun Devil fans).  It was the best possible way to cap off a season that promised much but delivered little after an October slide that had many questioning the caliber of a much-hyped ASU team.

Marion Grice was the standout for the Devils, scoring 3 touchdowns and rushing for 156 yards.  The stats alone don’t paint an accurate picture of how the game transpired: it was close (and frustrating) for the first three quarters, but the Devils got serious in the fourth quarter and scored 24 points to go up on our friends to the South.  The Wildcats had plenty of chances to seal the deal, but suffered from mistakes in the crucial final quarter (UA quarterback Matt Scott had two turnovers, one of which led to an ASU touchdown).  A full game summary can be found here.

Bigger than an additional game in the ‘win’ column, this game not only ups ASU’s chances at a Pac-12 affiliated bowl bid, it reinstates confidence in Todd Graham’s new style and what he plans to do with the team.  Contentment has returned to the Sun Devil fan base, and people will be more willing to buy season tickets again next year and to stop the trash talk that can be so common in Tempe.  On a related note, the classiness (or lack thereof) of ASU fans has been broached in previous columns: don’t get me wrong, I have no delusions about the nature of the ASU fan base.  Yes, we can be crass, and fickle, but it’s an offshoot of Tempe and the ASU experience (and hopefully it’s something that will change as Graham, ASU Athletic Director Steve Patterson, and the newly vindicated Sun Devil football team work to change the culture of fandom in Tempe).  A win in Tucson gives new life to the Sun Devil football program, and I hope that excitement lasts beyond whichever bowl game we are invited to.

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