ARIZONA STATE FOOTBALL

No Pity for the Kitty: Sun Devils veterans understand weight of Territorial Cup

Nov 24, 2023, 1:39 PM

Jalin Conyers...

Tight end Jalin Conyers #12 of the Arizona State Sun Devils runs with the football against the Arizona Wildcats on November 25, 2022 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

TEMPE — The Territorial Cup, college football’s oldest and most sacred rivalry trophy.

A melee filled with passion, sweat and intensiveness.

One game between the Arizona State Sun Devils (3-8) and No. 16 Arizona Wildcats (8-3) to determine who gets to display the trophy with honor.

Saturday marks one year since the Sun Devils dropped their first Territorial Cup matchup to the Wildcats in six years. It capped off one of the worst seasons (3-9) in Arizona State history.

The memory of Wildcat fans storming Arizona Stadium in Tucson does not bode well has stuck with the Sun Devil players in 2023. Needless to say, the Sun Devils are out for blood.

“You’ve got guys staying in the building late last night watching film, really just paying attention to detail,” Arizona State defensive back Jordan Clark said on Tuesday. “There’s a lot of emotion there … guys are preparing and are going to be ready on Saturday.”

Saturday’s rivalry matchup between the Arizona State Sun Devils and the Arizona Wildcats marks the 97th edition of the Territorial Cup. Arizona leads the all-time series 50-45-1.

Arizona State veterans this week have been emphasizing the importance of the game to the younger players. Head coach Kenny Dillingham showed the team a video on Monday, outlining the significance of the rivalry itself.

“It’s my third year here. It turned into a ‘I don’t really know much about UofA’ to ‘I really don’t like those guys’ to ‘I really don’t, I hate them,'” Arizona State tight end Jalin Conyers said with a smirk. “It means a lot to me. I’m especially excited to get out there and play in front of our home crowd.”

It’s been a flipped script for the two teams since Arizona State’s 70-7 massacre over Arizona in 2020. Just two years ago, the Sun Devils finished 8-4 and went to a bowl game. The Wildcats finished 1-11, their only win coming against a COVID-depleted Cal team that snapped a 20-game losing streak dating back to 2019.

Now, the Wildcats are 8-3 and have clinched a bowl-game berth. Arizona has turned into one of the hottest teams in college football, taking down numerous ranked teams to propel itself to No. 16 in the country.

The Wildcats have a chance to can pull off the ultimate stunner.

Arizona will be watching the No. 15 Oregon State versus No. 6 Oregon matchup closely on Friday evening. An OSU victory would give the Wildcats a chance at the Pac-12 Championship Game.

All they would need to do is beat Arizona State on Saturday.

No matter the outcome of the Oregon schools’ matchup, the Sun Devils have a singular focus.

“They’ve done a great job. Got to give credit where credit is due,” Conyers said of Arizona. “They’re one of those teams that no one really cared about at the beginning of the season … I give them credit but we don’t really care about that.

“I think it’s going to be one of the chirpiest and most passionate games a lot of us have ever been in … This is is our bowl game.”

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No Pity for the Kitty: Sun Devils veterans understand weight of Territorial Cup