Round of 16
Region 1: The Territorial Cup
No. 1 "Hoisting the Cup" vs. No. 5 "Robert Nelson's 66-yard Interception Return"
The case for "Hoisting the Cup": Does any moment compare to hoisting the cup? The Territorial Cup was almost assuredly the defining moment of this year in Sun Devil athletics. Todd Graham's team had so much riding on the Duel in the Desert that the remarkable come-from-behind victory was all the more impressive.
When the final whistle blew and the Wildcats' hearts were torn to pieces, Graham and his squad celebrated with class on their opponents' turf. Furthermore, the Sun Devils used the trophy as motivation to continue working hard right on through the bowl season. Now that Graham and co. have raised the trophy above their heads, they don't intend on giving it up anytime soon.
All the chaos that played out in the fourth quarter in Tucson culminated in one of the most special moments the Sun Devil community can ever experience together. The moment in which Graham and his players hoisted the trophy in the air seemed to stand still in time. For many Sun Devil players and fans, it's a memory they will never forget. -Kerry Crowley
The case for Robert Nelson: Plain and simple, Robert Nelson's interception locked up Arizona State's signature win. Sure, you might say that there's a good chance they win anyways if the ball hits the ground since it was fourth and six. But a plain old turnover on downs wasn't good enough for Nelson and nor should it be for anyone else in a rivalry game of this magnitude.
Nelson's awareness and lightning-quick reaction allowed him to return a tipped ball 66 yards to set up Michael Eubank's one-yard dagger of a touchdown. More than anything, fans have to appreciate the fight Nelson showed. Instead of just playing it safe and kneeling after the pick, Nelson went for the throat, breaking at least three tackles before he was double-teamed to the ground. And Nelson's boldness was rewarded with the ultimate snapshot of a dumbfounded Arizona crowd (skip to 00:36 seconds in the video below to soak it in for yourself). Did I mention this all occurred in his first career start?
In the end, I think we can all agree that Nelson's interception return was when Sun Devil nation collectively came to the realization that we were actually going to pull this one out. And for that, he deserves to move on to the next round. -Cody Ulm