Territorial Cup: Herm Edwards and Kevin Sumlin share deep history
The Arizona State Sun Devils and Arizona Wildcats will meet under the bright lights of Tucson’s Arizona Stadium on Friday night for the 94th installment of the Territorial Cup.
The series, which the Wildcats lead by a 49-43-1 margin, has been held every year since 1946, usually on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
This year’s iteration of the in-state feud was delayed a few weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic, but will feature the same drama and theatrics of previous iterations, even without any fans in the stands.
It will be the third such game between ASU coach Herm Edwards and Arizona’s Kevin Sumlin, with Edwards beating Sumlin in each of the pair’s previous matchups.
Last year’s contest saw then-senior ASU running back Eno Benjamin torch the Wildcats for 168 yards on 34 carries with two touchdowns, carrying the Sun Devils to a 24-14 win.
The year before featured a 20-point comeback for the visiting Sun Devils, with ASU besting their in-state rivals, 41-40 after Josh Pollack missed a 45-yard field goal attempt wide right with 11 seconds left on the clock.
The pair of coaches share a long lineage, dating back to when Sumlin worked as a coaching intern for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when Edwards was the team’s assistant head coach and defensive backs coach in 1998.
Sumlin then invited Edwards to speak to his players when he was the head coach at Texas A&M, according to the Arizona Daily Star, back when the ASU head coach was serving as an analyst for ESPN.
Fast forward to this year, with Edwards and Sumlin heading into their third Territorial Cup, this time featuring an 0-2 Sun Devils squad beset by issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sumlin and the Wildcats have lost all four of their games this season by a 129-80 margin.
Sumlin’s side enters Friday’s contest on an 11-game losing streak, which is the sixth-longest in Pac-12 history, according to Greg Hansen of the Arizona Daily Star.
A loss on Friday would extend ASU’s winning streak in the series to four, a feat that hasn’t been matched since the Wildcats won five consecutive games against the Sun Devils between 1982-86.
A victory for Sumlin’s side on Friday would likely cap off a winless, COVID-shortened season for Edwards and company, barring any makeup games later on in December.
The one guarantee is there will be no love lost between the numbers come Friday night, as the Wildcats and Sun Devils duke it out for in-state supremacy.
Whether Edwards or Sumlin will leave the night satisfied will be determined by the game’s final score.