Kenny Dillingham, Arizona State prepare for rivalry week, Arizona

Nov 20, 2023, 6:18 PM | Updated: Nov 22, 2023, 12:13 pm

Arizona State coach Kenny Dillingham reacts during the second half of the team's NCAA college footb...

Arizona State coach Kenny Dillingham reacts during the second half of the team's NCAA college football game against UCLA, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

(AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

TEMPE — Rivalry week.

Two of the most important words in scholastic athletics. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing Mighty Mites, high school or Division I.

It continues to matter even after you’ve graduated. But especially if you’re coaching your alma mater.

“I told our guys there’s two seasons when you play at ASU: There’s the first 11 games and that’s one season and then there’s the ‘Team down south’ week, and that’s an entirely another season,” Arizona State head football coach Kenny Dillingham said on Monday at his weekly press conference. “You only play 11 regular season games and then you play one other entire season, it takes seven days to play it.

“[The in-state rivalry is] something that I knew (about) and unless you’ve been in it, unless you’ve been a part of it or unless you’re from here and know, what you don’t understand is how intense the rivalry really is.”

During his entire half-hour press conference, Dillingham never mentioned “The school down south” by name, as a proper Sun Devil is won’t to do.

He spoke of the need to control emotions during such a big game.

“You’re gonna play with a passion,” Dillingham said. “If you don’t come out there ready to practice this week more than other weeks, oh man, I’m sorry for you.

“There’s not going to be a rah-rah speech. There’s not going a need to be me getting up there trying to motivate. This is going to be us keeping our focus, us being fresh and ready to play a football game in Week 12. … It’s about going to execute at a high level and play with the passion.”

Dillingham said he and his staff showed the players a video Monday, outlining the importance of the rivalry with Arizona and explained how the Territorial Cup is the oldest trophy among all the collegiate trophies.

Dillingham emphasized the importance of the game to everyone, not just in the Valley, but the state.

“There’s a lot of good memories from just me,” Dillingham said, having been a part of it for so long. “Obviously, I’ve watched this game. If I haven’t been able to watch it live, I’ve recorded it to make sure I watch it every single year. This game means a lot to everybody in the Valley everybody associated with Arizona, the state as a whole. I mean this game is like I said, it’s own season.”

Since the two teams started meeting in 1899, Arizona leads the all-time series 50-46-1.

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