Before you go into a turkey coma this weekend, there is this thing called the Territorial Cup that everyone should be aware of.
The NFL dominates the show on Thanksgiving day, but Black Friday is reserved for bargain shopping and college football. Arizona State heads down to Tucson for another season-ending duel with the University of Arizona.
Both Arizona schools are bowl eligible, but ASU is seeking revenge after losing to UofA at home last year. This weekend represents the 86th time the two teams have squared off. Sporting a 6-5 record, the maroon and gold is looking for one quality win on the season. Their five losses came at the hands of Missouri and ranked opponents in Oregon, Oregon State, USC, and UCLA.
The good news is that ASU has won two of the last three battles in Tucson and of the six halves played, the Sun Devils kept the Wildcats off the scoreboard for two complete halves and six total quarters. This season's defensive unit may have peaked at the right time to help give those statistics some meaning.
The Sun Devils surrendered the only seven points of the game against Washington State last weekend with 57 seconds remaining. The Cougars rushed for an abysmal one yard and starting quarterback Jeff Tuel completed 8 of his 16 passes for 67 yards and an interception before he was replaced. The Sun Devils defense also recorded a season high seven sacks in the game. Against USC on the road, the Sun Devils caused five Trojan turnovers
This weekend's contest against UofA will be heavily dictated on the ground. Arizona State rushed for 260 yards against Washington State and Wildcat running back Ka'Deem Carey rushed for 206 yards and a score against Utah. On the season, Carey has rushed for 1,585 yards and 19 touchdowns. The Sun Devils also have plenty of options when running the ball. They have rushed for over 2,300 yards as a team and crossed the goal line 17 times. A player to keep an eye on may be senior Cameron Marshall, who had 108 all-purpose yards in Tucson in 2010.
The keys to winning this game should be ball control and stopping the run game. Both Arizona and Arizona State have first-year head coaches on the sidelines in Rich Rodriguez and Todd Graham and a Territorial Cup victory will only help their season resumes.
Do not flip the channel too quickly because you will not want to miss the duel in the desert.