Winless ASU, Arizona ready for fan-less Territorial Cup
One of the longest rivalries in college football will continue on Friday when the Arizona State Sun Devils visit the Arizona Wildcats.
The rivalry began in 1899 when Arizona State was the Normal School of Arizona. Since then, the all-time series favors Arizona 49-43-1, with ASU having a current win streak of three games.
“I just think when you have a rivalry game, it’s what makes college football so special,” coach Herm Edwards said.
Because Arizona State’s team is so young, many are just learning the rivalry for the first time. So, too, is first-year offensive coordinator Zak Hill.
“I’m excited to see the rivalry,” he said. “It’s always fun to get your rivalry game. Me, being a new staff on this program, you learn about it … and you try to take it all in.”
The Arizona defense that the Sun Devils face is a “tough crew,” Hill said. “They play hard … up front, they are big.”
Offensively, Arizona has a big, dynamic back leading the run game — Gary Brightwell. The senior has 341 rushing yards on the season and one touchdown while averaging 4.8 yards per carry.
“He runs mad. He runs angry. He’s elusive,” said Arizona State co-defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce, who has seen both sides of the rivalry having played for Arizona.
With all that history of the Territorial Cup, nothing in the rivalry’s past looks quite like this year. No fans will be allowed to attend due to COVID-19 protocols.
“It’s about the fan base … sad part is the passion and the energy of the fans [and what they] bring to the stadium [will be missed], and that’s hard on everybody. The fans will be yelling at the televisions and the monitors and we can’t hear them,” Edwards said.
Adding to the weirdness this year: Both teams are winless.
The Sun Devils are 0-2 after requiring a three-week break due to COVID-19 cases on the team. They lost their season opener to USC and last week’s game against UCLA.
The Wildcats are 0-4 and lost their first game against Utah to a cancellation.
“They have not won a game and we have not won a game,” Edwards said. “All bets are off … They want to win one and we want to win one.
“This is a big one. This one has been going on a long, long time … You have bragging rights for a whole year, so it’s kind of important.”