All-2010s Territorial Cup team: Best players from the ASU-Arizona rivalry
The holiday season is back in the desert for college football fans, which doesn’t mean setting up light or trees but putting on face paint and a jersey.
The Territorial Cup rivalry returns to Tempe on Saturday as 6-5 Arizona State hosts 4-7 Arizona.
This rivalry has had many classic games like last season’s 41-40 thriller. Of the nine Territorial Cup matchups in the 2010s, five of them were decided by one score.
With big games come big performances. The 2010s have seen a lot of these. Here is the All-2010s Territorial Cup team:
QB1: Nick Foles, Arizona, 2010-2011
In 2010, Arizona trailed by six points in Tucson and had the ball with 2:45 left. Foles completed the first three passes of the drive to get Arizona in Sun Devil territory.
He marched all the way down to the five before delivering a strike to receiver David Douglas in the end zone with 27 seconds left.
All Arizona needed was the extra point to gain the late lead 21-20. But the attempt was blocked.
In overtime, ASU scored first, but Arizona responded with of touchdown of its own. But its extra-point try was blocked again and the Sun Devils prevailed. It was a tough 30-29 loss for Arizona, but Foles completed 22 of 36 throws for 262 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
A year later, he got his revenge by outdueling fellow future pro Brock Osweiler for a 31-27 win in Tempe.
He threw for 370 yards and two touchdowns. The only knock against him was that he was banged up and on the sidelines when backup Bryson Beirne completed the game-winning touchdown pass with 5:18 left.
QB2: Manny Wilkins, Arizona State, 2016-2018
It helps to have played in three of these games. Only Wilkins, ASU’s Taylor Kelly and Arizona’s Brandon Dawkins played quarterback for three of them during the 2010s.
Wilkins won two, in 2017 and 2018. The latter produced an iconic moment of Wilkins holding up the cup in triumph.
In 2016, Wilkins put up monster numbers with 373 yards through the air, three touchdowns and 72 rushing yards, but the defense could not stop the Wildcats rushing attack which led to a 56-35 loss for ASU.
A year later, Wilkins helped a third-quarter rally and ASU won 42-30. His numbers did not jump off the screen, although he did jump over a defender to pick up a first down, but he was efficient and protected the ball in the second half.
The big one came in 2018, when he helped lead a 19-point comeback for ASU on the road.
Wilkins and running back Eno Benjamin were incredible in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter. Wilkins ran for an 11-yard score to bring the game within one score, then Benjamin dashed into the endzone from 22 yards out to give ASU the lead 41-40.
Overall, Wilkins has the most passing yards in this rivalry since 2010 with 800. He also has 164 on the ground.
RB1: Samajie Grant, Arizona, 2013-2014, 2016
Yes, Grant was primarily a wide receiver for Arizona, but he got 19 carries against ASU in 2016.
The Wildcats threw the ball eight times that game (none in the second half), yet still scored 56 points.
Grant had the most dominant rushing performance of a Territorial Cup this decade. He ran for 176 yards (9.7 yards per carry) and scored three times. Two of his touchdowns were in the fourth quarter to help put the game out of reach.
RB2: Demario Richard, Arizona State, 2014-2017
ASU’s Marion Grice probably had the second-best single-game performance for a running back behind Grant in this era. Benjamin scored the game-winning touchdown of the rivalry’s greatest comeback. But Richard played in four Territorial Cup games and performed well in all of them.
- 2014: 13 carries, 68 rushing yards and a receiving touchdown
- 2015: 14 carries, 105 rushing yards, scored the first touchdown of the game in a win
- 2016: 34 rushing yards with 59 receiving yards
- 2017: 22 rushes, 165 rushing yards, two touchdowns (both in the second half of the win)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
WR1: Juron Criner, Arizona, 2010-2011
Criner was Foles’ top target in 2010 and 2011. He caught 15 passes for 229 yards over the two games.
He grabbed two touchdowns in 2010, one of which gave the Wildcats an early lead, the other extended it.
In 2011, he caught a screen pass and broke multiple tackles on his way to the end zone, the go-ahead score with 5:18 remaining, which ended up being the game-winner.
WR2: N’Keal Harry, Arizona State, 2016-2018
On 3rd-and-goal in 2017 with under five minutes remaining, Wilkins threw a jump ball to the back corner and Harry snagged it out of the air for a touchdown. This put Arizona away as it extended ASU’s lead to double-digits. If ASU settled for a field goal, then Arizona would have trailed by eight and had a chance to tie the game.
Harry played in three rivalry games, on the winning side in two of them. He caught 17 passes against the Wildcats with three touchdowns and 148 yards.
TE: De’Marieya Nelson, Arizona State, 2013-2014
This might be cheating a little, but there have not been many huge tight end moments over the past decade here. Nelson played everywhere for ASU in 2013 and 2014 and got a lot of snaps as a halfback against Arizona in 2013. He ran for 35 yards and two touchdowns.
The next year, he was primarily a tight end, and he caught a vital touchdown in the fourth quarter to bring ASU within one score.
OL: Arizona 2016
It is no small feat for a team to get three 100-yard rushers in one game. Arizona did that for the second time in school history against ASU in 2016 with Dawkins, Grant and Zach Green.
The Wildcats would not have done so without a stellar offensive line performance. The holes that opened up in the middle were gaping. Dawkins could step up and then take off for huge gains.
Arizona racked up 10.6 yards per carry, as it stopped throwing the ball in the second half because the run worked so well. In the first half, Dawkins dropped back eight times and was never sacked nor hurried.
DL: Ricky Elmore, Arizona, 2010
In 2010, the senior Elmore concluded his territorial cup career with eight tackles and three sacks.
LB: Scooby Wright III, Arizona, 2013-2014
Wright’s performance in 2014 gets him on this list.
He was a force in Arizona’s win with 13 tackles, five for loss, and two sacks. He also caused a fumble that got returned for a touchdown.
He won National Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts in getting Arizona to double-digit wins for the first time since 1998.
LB: Brandon Magee, Arizona State, 2010, 2012
Magee played in two cup games and ate up running backs. He finished the two outings with 30 tackles, 17 of which came in 2012.
CB: Robert Nelson, Arizona State, 2012-2013
In 2012, Nelson caught a tipped pass on the Sun Devil 32-yard line. ASU was leading by seven but Arizona was in the midst of an eight-play drive with 3:33 left in the game. Nelson returned the interception down to the Wildcats’ two-yard line, and the Devils punched it in to go up by a second score en route to a 41-34 win.
Nelson deflected four passes previously in the game.
CB: Keelan Johnson, Arizona State, 2010-2012
Johnson faced the Wildcats three times. His performance in ASU’s 41-34 win in 2012 was a standout. He deflected two passes and intercepted another. The Sun Devils started the game with four punts, but they scored a touchdown shortly after Johnson’s pick.
The senior also forced a fumble in the fourth quarter which set up an ASU touchdown.
S: Damarious Randall, Arizona State, 2013-2014
Randall had the defensive game of the decade for ASU in Territorial Cups in 2013.
He led both teams in tackles with 12. He forced a fumble. But the most important play came in the third quarter.
ASU led by 16, but the door was still open for Arizona to make something happen.
UA quarterback B.J. Denker’s pass was intercepted by Randall, who jumped a route over the middle on the ASU 36-yard line. He took it to the house to extend the Sun Devils’ lead to three scores.
ASU won its 10th game for the first time since 2007.
S: Jourdan Grandon, Arizona, 2011-2014
With 5:11 left in the game in 2011, ASU trailed 31-27. Osweiler marched the Devils down to the Arizona 23-yard line, but Grandon intercepted his pass on the 16-yard line, a devastating blow to ASU’s comeback chance.
The Devils got the ball back, but Grandon made another huge play by deflecting a pass away from receiver Mike Willie with just four seconds remaining.
In 2014, Grandon intercepted a Mike Bercovici pass in the fourth quarter with the Wildcats up by seven. The turnover results in an Arizona touchdown, which iced the game.
K: Thomas Weber, Arizona State, 2010
The senior knocked down all five of his field-goal attempts in 2010, including a 52-yarder. He accounted for 16 of ASU’s 30 points in the Sun Devils’ narrow victory.
DL/ST: James Brooks, Arizona State, 2010
Arizona had scored a touchdown with 27 seconds remaining and kicker Alex Zendejas came onto the field.
The trajectory of his kick was low, and Brooks leaped up and swatted it down. That sent the game to overtime.
ASU grabbed a seven-point lead, but the Wildcats responded with a touchdown of their own. All they needed was Zendejas to nail the extra point to keep the game going. But, Brooks knocked it down again, which ended the game with an ASU win.