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ASU prepares for rival Arizona in Territorial Cup

The 95th edition of the Territorial Cup is set to commence with tensions at an all-time high.
Credit: 12 News
The rivalry between Arizona and Arizona State is older than the state of Arizona.

TEMPE, Ariz. — It's a rivalry older than the state of Arizona and yet still feels as exciting as the two teams' initial showdown. Both ASU and Arizona are preparing for the 95th edition of the Territorial Cup, a matchup between hated in-state rivals.

"Just the tension in the air when everybody is warming up is serious," Michael Matus, ASU defensive end said. "You can cut it with a knife."

Both teams have failed to meet the expectations set at the start of the season with ASU falling short of a PAC-12 South title and the Wildcats with only a single win to show throughout all of 2020. Regardless of the records the end goal remains the same; to beat their most hated rival.

"Doesn't matter what the records are, we know what this thing's about," ASU Head Coach Herm Edwards said. "You can feel the electricity whether we go down there or they come up here."

In fact, Arizona Head coach Jedd Fisch is taking this upcoming matchup personally due to how last year's game ended.

"Clearly when we are down 63-7 and you call a pass on 4th and 4 there's obviously something to that," Fisch said. "So we remember."

The Sun Devils have won the last four meetings between the two teams with the most recent contest being the biggest thrashing of all time, winning 70-7. ASU remained aggressive near the end of the game looking to run up the score, despite the Wildcats having no chance at a comeback late in the 4th quarter. 

Naturally, the Wildcats feel a certain way toward their in-state rival.

"There's an obvious animosity toward one another," Fisch said. "It's been five years and we know that. We recognize that and we are taking that head on."

Ironically, Arizona leads the all-time head-to-head series over ASU 49-44-1, as the teams have met every year since 1928 and first matched up on the gridiron back in 1899.

Each year brings a different feel to the rivalry, but the passion and desire to win never wavers from either sideline.

"10 years from now, we're going to remember this game more than any other game," Matus said. "I firmly believe that. No matter what anybody's record is going into this game, it's a hard hitting game. You can guarantee that both of us will play our best game."

Both programs have faltered on the field more times than they both would like to admit, but come Saturday at 2pm all of the past struggles go out the window.

"We know this is a game that's going to be physical, it's going to be tough and a dog fight," ASU Offensive lineman Ladarius Henderson said. "We need to play really good, we need to play our best game."

The Wildcats and Sun Devils hope they saved their best performance for the final game of the season but only one team will come out victorious. Recent history suggests ASU will top their rival for the 5th year in a row, although Coach Fisch hopes their intense week of preparation will be the difference.

"If you're not focused one-thousand percent on doing things right this week, we won't have a chance,"  Fisch said. "We will be ready."

Kickoff between Arizona and Arizona State is set for Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe at 2 p.m AZT.

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