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Sun Devils well experienced in close games under Herm Edwards

Arizona State Sun Devils Head Coach Herm Edwards on the sidelines during a college football game against the UCLA Bruins played on October 26, 2019 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. (Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

There’s nothing quite like the Territorial Cup between Arizona State and Arizona. Since 2010, half of the games have been decided by a touchdown or less with two contests being a one-point difference.

One was the thriller from last season when first-year Head Coach Herm Edwards’ Devils overcame a 19-point fourth quarter deficit to win, 41-40, in Tucson.

Considering the frequency of close games between Arizona and Arizona State, more than a quarter have been decided by a touchdown or less all time, it’s worth looking at how Edwards’ Sun Devils respond under pressure.

Last season, nine of Arizona State’s 13 games were decided by a touchdown or less. In these games, the Sun Devils held a record of 4-5. Arizona State entered the fourth quarter trailing in two of the four wins.

The trend of close games continued in Edwards’ second year as seven of the 11 games Arizona State has played so far have been decided by a touchdown or less.

The Sun Devils have won four of these games and lost three.

Interestingly, all four (Michigan St., California, Washington St. and Oregon) came against opponents that were either ranked at the time or previously in the AP Top 25 Poll during the season. Arizona State’s only close win over a ranked opponent last season came against Michigan St., who was ranked No. 15 at the time.

Two of the four wins featured a fourth quarter comeback. Arizona State erased a three-point deficit against Michigan St. and a touchdown deficit against Washington State.

Arizona State and California were tied headed into the fourth quarter when the two matched up in late September. Meanwhile, the Sun Devils were able avoid a fourth-quarter comeback against then No.6-ranked Oregon a week ago and won by three points.

The Sun Devils have been successful in close games against ranked opponents this season, but struggled with teams they arguably should have beat – Colorado and Oregon State.

Arizona State’s third touchdown-or-less loss was against USC who at the time wasn’t ranked but is currently ranked No. 25 in the AP Top Poll.

This is different from last season as three of the five close losses in 2018 came against teams (Washington, Oregon and Stanford) who spent time ranked. The other two defeats were to San Diego St. and Colorado.

So that brings us to tonight.

Arizona hasn’t sniffed the AP Top 25 at any point this season and have lost six straight.

However, if past history has taught us anything, it’s to expect everything when the Sun Devils and Wildcats clash.

Listen to all the action tonight at 8 p.m. on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station.

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