It’s a ‘Battle of the Winless’ for Arizona Football in Territorial Cup

Dec 5, 2020; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Herm Edwards against the UCLA Bruins in the first half at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 5, 2020; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Herm Edwards against the UCLA Bruins in the first half at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

We are in uncharted territory for Arizona Football as the Wildcats are staring down a winless season for the first time in program history with their annual matchup against ASU looming.

Friday’s marks the 94th annual meeting between Arizona Football (0-4, 0-4) and Arizona State (0-2, 0-2) in the annual Territorial Cup, and perhaps fortunately for us, it also marks the end to a miserable and unusual, abbreviated 2020 season.

As we’ve seen so far, the Wildcats have not put together a good product this year. Despite having held a lead in two of their four games, the Wildcats have nothing to show for it, having been outscored 129-80 in all four losses.

Arizona Wildcats
Arizona Wildcats /

Arizona Wildcats

Even though this team has seen numerous transfers and opt-outs, the defense has largely been inconsistent, but at least good enough to help the Cats deliver wins in a typical year. However, the offense has been mostly stagnant, no doubt impacted by the injury of Grant Gunnell.

With one game left for 2020, this week is an especially big one, as it is essentially Arizona’s Super Bowl. Let me be frank, there has virtually been nothing to look at as a positive moving forward with this program, so why not try and play for all the marbles, as if potentially having a winless season for the first time in program history isn’t enough incentive.

Perhaps the good news is that records typically don’t matter in this rivalry (see Arizona’s upset in 2016), and ASU has seen their struggles this year as well. Impacted by Covid, the Sun Devils are 0-2, and will also have to travel to Tucson. Perhaps that gives us a bit of an advantage here…

With that said, here is our Weekly preview of the Cats’ matchup against those guys Up North!

Know Thy Foe:

Team: Arizona State Sun Devils (0-2, 0-2)

Conference: Pac-12 Conference

2019 Record: The Sun Devils finished 2019 with an impressive 8-5 (4-5) record, finishing the year with three-straight wins over then No. 6 Oregon, Arizona, and Florida State in their Bowl win.

Head Coach: Herm Edwards is in year three at ASU in Tempe, and so far, he is off to a decent start in his career with the Sun Devils, compiling a 15-13 record. Even though 2020 isn’t quite going the way I’m sure he and others had hoped, however, the future still looks pretty bright for the Sun Devils in Tempe.

Key Returners/ Starters: This year has not quite gone the way the Team Up North has hoped, however, they nonetheless have plenty of playmakers to watch for in this one.

The offense is undoubtedly led by sophomore quarterback Jayden Daniels, and despite the limited production thus far, he is a threat to make plays from anywhere on the field.

The Devils like to run the ball (results of the Colorado game doesn’t bode well for us), and they do have a talented backfield, leaning on the production of Deamonte Trayanum and Rachaad White. We also can’t forget the legs of Daniels as well, who makes this backfield a triple threat, and that much more difficult to stop.

As for his targets, Daniels likes to throw to Rachaad, who is a talented pass-catcher out of the backfield, and Frank DarbyLV Bunkley-Shelton and Johnny Wilson seem to be his favorite receivers so far.

Defensively, even though they have seen their fair share of players graduate, leave, opt-out, etc. this is still a pretty stout group. The Sun Devils have quite a few playmakers on that side of the ball, and they will likely challenge Arizona’s shaky front.

Veteran defensive back Evan Fields and linebacker Merlin Robertson seem to lead this group, and they tend to make a lot of plays every Saturday.

You also cannot forget about talented players like Tyler Johnson (DL), Jermayne Lole (DL), and Michael Matus (DE) who seem to have a knack for getting to the quarterback and creating disruption in the backfield.

Key Injuries: 

Arizona State


  • QB – Grant Gunnell (Shoulder) – Is questionable versus Arizona State.
  • LB – Jabar Triplett (Achilles) – Achilles tear. Out for the season.
  • WR – Jaden Mitchell (Knee) – ACL Tear. Out for the season.
  • S – Christian Young (Undisclosed) – Out for the season.
  • CB – Bobby Wolfe (Opt-Out) – Out for the season.
  • CB – Malik Hausman (Opt-Out) – Out for the season.
  • CB – McKenzie Barnes (Opt-Out) – Out for the season.

Game Information: 

When: Friday, December 11th, 2020

Time: 5:30 PM MST (Arizona Time) | 4:30 PM PST

Watch: ESPN

Where: Arizona Stadium – Tucson, AZ (50,782… 0)

Spread: +8.5 Arizona

Overall Series Record: 49-43-1 Arizona. Arizona does still hold the lead in the overall head-to-head series, however, ASU is closing the gap. Winners of three-straight, and 12 of the last 18 matchups, the Devils have seemingly controlled this rivalry of late.

Last Meeting vs. Arizona: Arizona State came away with the 24-14 victory in Tempe last year, holding the Cats to just 383 yards total and 14 points.

My Prediction: It’s generally pretty hard to predict rivalry week, just because anything can happen, however, I don’t like Arizona’s chances. Yes, ASU is 0-2, but they also haven’t had many chances to play this year, and they also have played a bad Arizona team like this one.

Given Arizona’s struggles on defense and the fact we still may be without Gunnell, this one doesn’t quite give me the warm and fuzzies.

Play for pride, play for not going winless for the first time in program history, show some damn fight! Unfortunately, I just don’t see the win. Arizona State 27 Arizona 21.

Prediction record so far: 4-0

More. On Arizona Football. light

At Zona Zealots, hopefully the Cats can end this season on a high note, and get in the win column for the first time in over year! As always, Bear Down, Arizona and Fork the Devils!