The Sun Devils have a number of major wins in their combined basketball and football histories, but none are as precious or as savored as those over the University of Arizona.
ASU basketball's amazing win on Sunday was the latest story to have a familiar plot. A Sun Devil team limping to the season's finish line caps off an otherwise forgettable year with a classic victory that also drops the Wildcats into the abyss of despair.
An immediate comparison to Sunday's game is the football team's dramatic win over the Wildcats on December 2nd, 2010. That thrilling double-overtime game knocked the Wildcats from the Top 25 and propelled ASU into an offseason rife with optimism.
The Case for Basketball's Win: By Cory Williams
Brad is going to attempt to pull the wool over your eyes and say that the 2010 football victory over Arizona was more important than Sunday's epic 87-80 basketball win. No doubt, that football game was amazing. I was there and it was one of the most exciting games I've ever seen in person. In a vacuum, I might even agree with him.
Lest we forget, that win was supposed to catapult us back into relevance. Our 2011 season had BCS aspirations written all over it, and it ended with a fired head coach, a quarterback who went pro a season early, and a lot of questions going into 2012.
This win on Sunday? It's all uphill from here. We saw what our young team was capable of and we got a glimpse into what 2012-13 will bring for Herb Sendek and the Devils. Jordan Bachynski will be a good front court presence for when Jahii Carson, Evan Gordon and Bo Barnes join the roster. Trent Lockett will be a senior and Jonathan Gilling will continue to be lethal from beyond the arc.
Sure, both games were awesome. But this game is a legitimate barometer of how far this team has come since the start of the year and the future is mighty bright for this crop of Sun Devils.
See why Brad thinks football is the choice after the jump
The Case for Football's Win: By Brad Denny
Like on Sunday, the 2010 Sun Devil football team held no real hopes for a postseason. A season of lost opportunities had rendered them at a disappointing 5-6 as they arrived in Tucson to face the 23rd ranked Arizona Wildcats.
Since peaking at No. 15, Arizona had lost three straight, but with homefield advantage in this heated rivalry, and with Arizona State being led by sophomore Brock Osweiler--making just his second career start, his first since 2009--the odds were good that the Wildcats would hold on to the Territorial Cup for a third straight season.
The Wildcats held a 14-6 lead as the fourth quarter began, in part due to the shaky performance of Osweiler. However, he continued to battle, and his talent and resiliency manifested themselves as he led the Sun Devils to three fourth quarter scoring drives to take a 20-14 lead with just 2:59 left in the game.
Arizona quarterback Nick Foles responded with a 10-play touchdown drive that appeared to win the game for the Wildcats. All that remained was the formality of the extra point...which was BLOCKED by James Brooks.
Wow. Bring on overtime.
The first overtime saw a trade of field goals, but the Sun Devils broked through with a Cameron Marshall touchdown run. Befitting the script, Arizona then scored a touchdown of their own, and triple overtime was just a PAT away...
And that right there is why this win was bigger. That immediate rush, that hear-stopping moment, that surge of adrenaline that lifts you off the couch and into the stratosphere of jubilation in an instant.
It didn't just happen once, but TWICE. There's no way that any Hollywood-cliché loving scriptwriter would have dared pen that outcome. That's a feeling that is impossible to replicate.
That didn't happen on Sunday. The game fell into the sad inbound-foul-free-throw-and-repeat cycle that mars the end of most close basketball games.
Plus, football is played but once a year, and the oldest rivalry trophy in the nation is at stake with each game. That, to me, is the clincher.
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