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ASU Football: 5 takeaways from the Territorial Cup

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Quarterback play and the future of the rivalry is what we learned about Friday.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

1. Laiu Moeakiola is vital

Moeakiola left the game at halftime with a leg injury and came back out in the second half on crutches, dismissing the possibility that he would return. It became too little too late for the Sun Devils, which allowed 14 unanswered points in the third quarter including a 9-play, 75-yard drive to open the second half for the Wildcats. Defensive schemes were adjusted in order to fill the void and ASU suffered as a result. The other game Moeakiola missed against UCLA was a similar result, the maroon and gold gave up similar explosive plays and were blown out in the second half.

2. Bercovici proved himself again for 2015

If the first three games weren't convincing, perhaps Mike Bercovici's performance in the Territorial Cup were enough to show that the Sun Devils are in good hands moving forward. He completed 14 of 22 passes for 123 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Yes, his stat line is on par with Taylor Kelly's, but ASU threw the ball almost exclusively with Bercovici on the field, there was no semblance of a running game with the Sun Devils playing from behind. That's why it looks like Bercovici was as good as Kelly Saturday, he had more chances. Passing every down isn't going to win football games though, and ASU will have to find a better balance next season.

3. This was just the beginning

Both ASU and Arizona have a lot of young talent. The Sun Devils have a lot of promise in freshmen like DJ Calhoun, Armand Perry, Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard. The Wildcats running back Nick Wilson, who ran all over ASU, is just a freshman as is Anu Solomon. They're only going to continue improving over the next few seasons and the programs will mature along with them. Expect more games like Friday down the line, with a lot riding on each game in ranked matchups. No question the Territorial Cup is rising in national prominence.

4. Loyalty isn't everything to Todd Graham

Friday was the first time Todd Graham legitimately had a choice to choose between Taylor Kelly and Mike Bercovici and he choose Bercovici. Many had criticized Graham's loyalty to Kelly, but he broke it Friday late in the third quarter, putting the game ahead of his bond with Kelly. It was both encouraging and disappointing to see. Graham spoke so highly of Kelly at his post game press conference against Washington State, one never would have thought Kelly would get pulled Friday. But it also showed Graham willing to adapt in terms of important personnel in order to win games.

5. The tempo of the season is now clear

Teams have different kinds of seasons. Some groups just ride low on the totem pole and play upset specialist once or twice. Others start slow and then sharply fall out of contention. Very few ride high all year, winning championships at the end. The Sun Devils fall from grace was very slow, three weeks long in fact. Riding high at No. 6 in the College Football Playoff after a victory over Notre Dame, the maroon and gold lost to Oregon State but then regained consciousness against Washington State only to fall to Arizona.

After the loss to UCLA loss, many had this team at no better than 7-5 before a meteoric rise and the eventual fall. It was supposed to be a rebuilding year, ASU wasn't expected to go 9-3. Many were going to be content at 8-4 and would have taken 9-3 in a heartbeat. The end was painful for a fan base that expected more as the season progressed and then were left empty handed, but the context of the season is important to show how far this team has come.