It’s that time of year again.
Battle lines are drawn and the state of Arizona’s biggest rivalry is set to continue as ASU faces Arizona in the 2017 Territorial Cup game Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium. The rivalry is the oldest official matchups in college football, dating all the way back to the 1899 season.
Neither team has been overly impressive this season, but both come in with winning records, a chance to earn bragging rights for the next year and the ability to secure a better bowl game invitation. Arizona sits at 7-4 and has won three out of their last five games including a big upset over No. 15 Washington State.
Here are some things to watch out for from the Wildcats.
Tate Runnith Over
The story of Arizona’s football season has been squarely centered around sophomore quarterback Khalil Tate. The Inglewood product got his first real action of the season in week five against Colorado after starter Brandon Dawkins went out with an injury. Tate proceeded to set an FBS quarterback record by running for 327 yards on just 14 carries to go along with five total touchdowns. He hasn’t looked back since.
Tate currently leads the country with 10.6 yards per rushing attempt and ranks 12th in the nation with 1,325 yards on the ground. For some perspective, that’s 513 more yards than ASU’s leading rusher Demario Richard.
Tate has struggled a bit throwing the ball with just 1,157 yards passing, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions. However, his ability to run the ball has lead Arizona to score 41 points per game, the sixth highest in the country. The Wildcats also have the fourth best running attack in the nation with 314.7 rushing yards per game.
No Help Defense?
While Tate has been owning opposing defenses all year, his own defense hasn’t helped him much this season. Arizona is allowing 34.3 points and 461.1 yards per game and has struggled to get off the field with opposing teams converting on third down almost 45 percent of the time.
The Wildcats do a good job when it comes to forcing turnovers, with almost two takeaways per game. Four percent of all passes thrown by opposing quarterbacks are intercepted by an Arizona player, good for the 18th best rate in the country. Redshirt freshman Lorenzo Burns has lead the way with four interceptions of his own as well as 67 total tackles.
ASU should look to exploit Arizona’s weak run defense, while avoiding turnovers against the Wild cats ball-hawking secondary.
The game will be televised at 2:30 p.m. PST on the Pac-12 Network.