The Territorial Cup has seen more than its fair share of excitement. Arizona and ASU have been playing for state supremacy since 1899, when Tempe Normal School defeated the University of Arizona 11-2. AU has been spinning the rivalry ever since, with this quote from the school website saying it all:
Tempe won, 11-2, but the loyal local paper thought the University "showed more skill and science . . . . lacked the physical strength . . . the Tempe team outweighed the Tucson team by about one-third."
Since then, the Sun Devils and the Wildcats have played many a memorable game on the gridiron. Lets recap the best five wins for ASU in Territorial Cup history.
1975: Arizona State 24, Arizona 21
Brad wrapped this up neatly in the summer during our 100 Day Countdown to Kickoff.
The Frank Kush-led Sun Devils are 10-0 and ranked No. 8 in the nation. They hosting the annual battle with Arizona, who are 9-1 and ranked 12th. What's on the line? How about state bragging rights, the WAC championship and a Fiesta Bowl berth.
Oh, is that all?
The Wildcats took an early 14-3 lead in the game, but the Sun Devils had the ball very late in the first half at the Arizona eight-yard line.
ASU dialed up a pass play to take a shot at the end zone. Quarterback Dennis Sproul dropped back, found Jefferson running a slant to the right, and fired off a pass.
The ball sailed wide, seemingly destined for an incompletion. But then...
Jefferson laid out in a full-extension dive, got a hold of the ball, secured it and fell into the endzone and into immortality.
The touchdown cut the Wildcat lead to 14-10 at the half and gave ASU much needed momentum. They outplayed their hated rivals in the second half, and Sproul's touchdown run in the fourth quarter gave the Sun Devils an incredible win and a date with Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl. In that game, ASU won to cap the 12-0 record and a final No. 2 national ranking, the best in school history.
But it all would have been just a dream had it not been for Jefferson making the greatest play in Sun Devil history.
2010: Arizona State 30, Arizona 29 (2OT)
Better known as the James Brooks Block Party, the 2010 Territorial Cup game is a strong contender for the greatest game in rivalry history. A game that saw special teams mishaps on both sides of the ball went from a jagged affair to a chilling offensive comeback for the Sun Devils, who scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to find themselves tied with the Wildcats after four quarters.
The teams combined for 18 punts, including four for less than 20 yards. The defenses were stodgy, forcing a collective 46/87 on passing attempts and only 2.87 yards per carry on 86 attempts between the two offensive squads.
Thomas Weber was the MVP, making all five of his field goal attempts and converting the only extra point that mattered: a chip shot in double overtime to put all the pressure on Alex Zendejas, who is an Arizona State hero at this point.
1996: Arizona State 56, Arizona 14
This win was sweet for so many reasons. First of all, who doesn't enjoy stomping Arizona by 42 on their home field? That alone is worth a spot in the top five games in rivalry history. But to finish the regular season 11-0 after securing the school's second appearance in the Rose Bowl against Cal? That is all the better.
The Devils nearly won the national championship, losing in the waning moments to Ohio State. Jake Plummer still was able to showcase his immense offensive talents in a memorable fourth quarter drive. But enough about the Rose Bowl - lets talk about how Terry Battle ran for 143 yards and 3 touchdowns; how Marlon Farlow added 93 yards and two scores, while Jeff Paulk picked up 82 yards on the ground as well. The ground 'n' pound tore the Wildcats apart.
But it wasn't all on the ground: Keith Poole caught four passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Pure destruction. Pure embarrassment for Arizona.
2007: Arizona State 20, Arizona 17
At 9-2, the Sun Devils were fighting for an opportunity to play in a BCS bowl. At 5-6, the Wildcats were scrambling for a bowl berth. By defeating AU in front of a sellout crowd at Sun Devil Stadium, Rudy Carpenter and the Devils put together their first ten win season since 1996.
Carpenter was tough as nails, throwing for 247 yards and two touchdowns. Most importantly, Carpenter took care of the ball, throwing zero picks. Rodney Cox and Troy Nolan picked off Willie Tuitama, while Dimitri Nance and Chris McGaha paced the offense by leading their respective categories.
ASU went on to the Holiday Bowl, while Arizona went back to Tucson for the winter.
1973: Arizona State 55, Arizona 19
The two-time defending Fiesta Bowl champions were 9-1 and looking to make it three in a row. The only thing standing in their way was Arizona, but not for long. Danny White and the Devils took out the trash in Tempe, sending Arizona back to Tucson with their tail between their legs. And yes, ASU won the Fiesta Bowl again in 1973.
Which Territorial Cup victory was the biggest in school history? Vote in the poll below. Go Devils!