What’s left to play for in final 2 games for Arizona State football?

Nov 15, 2022, 4:12 PM | Updated: 4:56 pm
Head coach Shaun Aguano of the Arizona State Sun Devils walks out with the team before the game aga...
Head coach Shaun Aguano of the Arizona State Sun Devils walks out with the team before the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on October 22, 2022 in Stanford, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

TEMPE — The Arizona State football team has two games remaining on the 2022 docket.

The first is senior day this upcoming Saturday against the No. 25 Oregon State Beavers (7-3, 4-3 in Pac-12) at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.

The second is the Territorial Cup against the in-state rival Arizona Wildcats (4-6, 2-5) in Tucson.

But with ASU no longer bowl eligible with a 3-7 record (2-5 in conference), what exactly is there left to play for?

“I can make that very simple. You got two games. You play one for the seniors and play one for the state,” defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson said Monday. “And our seniors deserve that, they deserve to go out in those two games as winners — winning as your last home game and then win as the state.

“That’s what I’ve talked about and it will be the message from my end as far as the defense is concerned. I said to them (Sunday): That’s what you’re playing for. It’s sometimes hard to get motivated when you’re not seeing yourself going to a bowl. … So we got a lot to play for.”

History has favored Arizona State in its final two games of the regular season over the past decade.

Since 2012, the Sun Devils have closed out the Pac-12 schedule a perfect 2-0 five times — including three of the last five seasons — while going 1-1 four times and 0-2 just once in 2016, the same year ASU last missed out on a bowl game. The Sun Devils are also 14-5 on senior day since 2003, which includes going 8-2 over the last decade and 4-1 in the last five years.

And when it comes to the two opponents ASU will be facing, it will have a pair of long winning streaks to uphold.

The first will be when Oregon State comes to Tempe to play at Sun Devil Stadium, a place where the Beavers have only won once since 1969. In fact, ASU is 19-1 at home against OSU in their last 20 meetings, with Oregon State’s only road win coming in 2009.

The second will be when the Sun Devils head down to Tucson to take on the Wildcats, who Arizona State has beaten five times in a row, with ASU’s last visit to Arizona Stadium being the 70-7 win in what ended up being Kevin Sumlin’s last game before current head coach Jedd Fisch took over.

And in addition to playing for the seniors and the rivalry game, ASU could potentially play spoiler for Arizona’s postseason hopes if the Wildcats can beat Washington State this Saturday and go into the Territorial Cup at 5-6, needing just one more win to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2017.

“If you can’t get up for those two (games), it’s going to be hard for me to motivate you anyway,” Henderson said. “Because someday you’re going to be a senior and you’re going to hope that we play our tails off so your last hurrah in this stadium is a good one because that’s what you’re going to remember.

“You remember it so it’s easy for me,” he added. “I can tell you right now, I got two things to think about it: it’s for the seniors and it’s for the state — that’s my bowl game. If I can win those two then I’m happy.”

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What’s left to play for in final 2 games for Arizona State football?