TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 19: Quarterback Brock Osweiler #17 of the Arizona State Sun Devils throws a pass during the college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Sun Devil Stadium on November 19, 2011 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
In a game of runs, the Arizona St. Sun Devils and Arizona Wildcats took turns scoring in spurts before the Sun Devils came up just short in the closing seconds. Brock Osweiler passed for 487 yards, Gerell Robinson set a new Territorial Cup receiving record with 199 receiving yards and the Sun Devils failed to convert on either of two last-second heaves to the endzone as they came away winless.
The Wildcats opened the game on a run, scoring two touchdowns in the opening 10 minutes of the game to take an early 14-0 lead. The Sun Devils, however, answered back with three straight touchdowns- two rushing scores by Cameron Marshall and an 11-yard passing touchdown from Brock Osweiler to Robinson- to take a 21-14 lead. After a 43-yard Arizona field goal by John Bonano, the Sun Devils entered halftime with a 21-17 advantage and had to feel good about their chances of victory.
It was ASU's turn to come out strong in the second half, connecting on two field goals by Alex Garoutte of 22 and 27 yards into the early stage of the fourth quarter to give ASU a 10-point cushion at 27-17.
Playing their part in the next chapter of this up-and-down contest, the Wildcats capitalized on the scoreboard after ASU's two field goals in what proved to be the difference in the game. Aided by incredibly poor ASU tackling, Nick Foles connected with Gino Crump for a 33-yard touchdown pass to close within 27-24. ASU decided to take a bold chance and press the issue on 4th-and-3 on the ensuing drive, and the Wildcat defense broke up a pass to give Arizona the ball back at the Wildcat 39-yard line.
Foles sustained an injury on the following drive and didn't return for the rest of the game, but more poor tackling by the ASU defense paved the way for a 23-yard touchdown pass from Wildcat back-up Bryson Beirne to Juron Criner.
Down 31-27, Osweiler led the Sun Devils into Arizona territory, but a tipped pass ended up in the hands of Arizona's Jourdon Grandon and the Wildcats regained possession. ASU put together one final drive in the closing 1:19 of the game, still down 31-17, and the Sun Devils had two chances from the Arizona 15-yard line with 0:09 left to score the game-winning touchdown. Both passes- from Osweiler to Mike Willie- were broken up, and the Sun Devils came away with a 31-27 loss to close the 2011 edition of the Territorial Cup.
The loss stings for ASU players and fans alike, and it also brings about speculation on the future of head coach Dennis Erickson, who will likely be let go after season's end following three straight losses. Who would you like to see as ASU head coach next season? Post your thoughts on the game and Erickson's future in the Comments section below.