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ASU Football: Rivals with similar identities

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Whether intentional or not, the Wildcats and Sun Devils do a lot alike.

NCAA Football: Arizona at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

They say imitation is the most sincerest form of flattery. Whether or not the Arizona Wildcats and Arizona State Sun Devils want to be accused of mimicking their bitter in-state rivals remains to be seen.

Both teams have star-caliber running backs, dual-threat quarterbacks and first-year coaches. They want to control the clock and young defenses that thrive upon their home field advantage.

Advantage: Wildcats

If this game was in Tempe, ASU would likely be able to suffocate the Wildcats with their running game and home field advantage. The young Sun Devils squad has struggled this season on the road, and need a win in Tucson to secure an above .500 record.

The reasons for the Sun Devils’ struggles on the road has baffled the coaching staff. Head coach Herm Edwards says he enjoys playing on the road, especially the feeling of silencing a big crowd.

Arizona State fans would love nothing more to take the air out of the Wildcat faithful and end their football season without a postseason berth.

Listening to both head coaches this week they were quick to praise each other’s teams and were often describing similar tendencies.

Good quarterbacks, extremely talented running backs to be fearful of and big-play makers in the passing game.

Each team is weary of the other’s rushing attack, which could lead to a long afternoon for the defenses.

“Number 21 (J.J. Taylor) is a good player,” said Edwards. “At 5’6” 190 pounds, he has over 1,300 yards rushing. He’s a dominant player. They have some explosive players that concern you.”

Sumlin was also quick to praise Eno Benjamin, describing the star sophomore as a “violent runner” that could cause problems for the Wildcats defense.

The respect exuded by both coaches is also something new to the rivalry. Both Kevin Sumlin and Edwards referred to each other as friends, a far cry from the Todd Graham and Rich Rodriguez era who had a famous fallout prior to arriving in the desert.

“I know him through coaching,” said Edwards during his weekly presser. “He asked me to come down and visit with him and his football team (Texas A&M). I was delighted to do that. This coaching profession winds everyone in some way or the other. He has done a good job at being a college football coach.”

Arizona State has benefited greatly from their new head coaches’ temperament. The Sun Devils have been competitive in every game they’ve played this season and have taken on the attitude of their head coach to not panic regardless of the situation of the football game.

It was evidenced when ASU trailed by 15 points at halftime against Oregon and clawed their way back into the game. Though they fell short, there was no point in that game they felt they weren’t going to come out on top.

This game obviously means a lot to both programs and fan bases. The home team has won six consecutive matchups, with ASU winning at Arizona Stadium in 2012.

Being able to finish road games is something all young teams must learn. Arizona State has been presented with several opportunities this season, and are looking to finally cash in.

This game obviously means a lot to both programs and fan bases. The home team has won six consecutive matchups, with ASU winning at Arizona Stadium in 2012.

If the Sun Devils are going to be able to steal a win Saturday, it will likely come down to ASU being able to utilize a balanced offense while winning the turnover margin.

However, in rivalry games the most important think to remember is to throw conventional wisdom out the window.