Arizona Football: There’s a Shaky Confidence From Sun Devil Fans in Tempe

Both the ASU and Arizona football teams are hoping to salvage their seasons on Saturday, but as usual, how can anyone predict this year’s outcome?

Here we are, the biggest week of the year in Arizona sports. The University of Arizona Wildcats will take the field Saturday against the Arizona State Sun Devils, this year in Tempe.

There are a few things wrong with the scenario this time. Just a few months ago, ASU’s coach, Todd Graham, was predicting a playoff berth. But by Labor Day weekend, ASU had suffered its first lost and fans were pretty sure their playoff dreams were dashed.

Arizona was hoping to repeat as Pac-12 South Champions with a second shot at the Pac-12 conference title. Arizona cruised through its first three games, although many thought their pre-conference schedule was not tough enough to be a good indicator of future success.  They were right, UCLA came to town for ESPN Game Day, and Josh Rosen steamrolled the Wildcats.

Since then both ASU and Arizona have had their ups and downs. Both pulled out wins over ranked opponents, ASU over then No. 7 UCLA and just last Saturday U of A won a thrilling double-overtime victory over No. 10 Utah.

Both teams have also had some lackluster performances, probably exacerbated by a number of injuries.

So now it’s Thanksgiving week, and it’s time for the Territorial Cup.  Some fans aren’t even aware the Rivalry Game is this weekend. Due to a scheduling quirk, not only is the Territorial Cup the Saturday before Thanksgiving, ASU will finish at Cal on November 28, which is typically the weekend they should play the Wildcats.

Nov 14, 2015; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats wide receiver Nate Phillips (6) runs the ball during the third quarter against the Utah Utes at Arizona Stadium. Arizona won 37-30 in double overtime. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Driving around Tempe, there are not many indications there is a huge game coming up in a few days.  I do not see cars with school flags, not hearing a lot of chatter about the game, and so far no red or blue is painted on “A” Mountain in Tempe.

Historically, this is not a game where the winner can be predicted and this year is no different. I work in Tempe, and most of my co-workers are sports fans. I asked all of them for their prediction.  All except one chose ASU (more on that later). However, most of them, even though they bleed maroon and gold, had to think about it before giving an answer.  Their decision/prediction basically came down to giving the edge to the home team.

My co-workers aren’t confident in their team, but they are confident in the game’s outcome. Most predict a close game, with ASU winning by a touchdown or less.  The only person who thinks the Sun Devils will cream the Wildcats is a young guy who is far too green to realize the unexpected twists and turns that will occur on Saturday.

Back to my one and only co-worker who is predicting a Wildcat victory by 7: Full disclosure, he has a relative on the Arizona football team.  Blood is thicker than water, no doubt.  So on Monday he and I will be ecstatic, or we will get teased incessantly, asked over and over again, ‘Why do you guys say Bear Down?’ Sun Devils will just never get it. And Wildcats do not wonder why.