Preparing for another Duel in the Desert, No. 16 Arizona Football (8-3, 6-2) takes on bitter in-state rival, Arizona State (3-8, 2-6).
The finale of the 2023 Arizona Football season is sadly here, and while there are not many games left, the Wildcats are far from being done.
Returning to the gridiron for its final regular season game, it is officially rivalry week as the Wildcats travel to Tempe to take on ‘Those Guys up North’.
Currently sitting in third place in the Pac-12 Conference standings, the Wildcats are still in control of their destiny as they have an outside chance to reach the conference title game.
While a lot will have to go the Wildcats’ way, Arizona does at least have an opportunity to improve its postseason resume, and it starts with beating the Sun Devils.
Coming in, ASU may not be a great team (as their record indicates); however, as we’ve learned over the years, anything can happen in this rivalry, and this is a game that the Wildcats cannot take lightly.
Overall, Arizona will need focus as a lot will be riding on the line for the Wildcats as they look to strengthen their postseason resume and keep the Territorial Cup in Tucson. Hopefully, the Wildcats can leave Tempe victorious!
Getting to Know the details about Arizona Football’s opponent, the Arizona State Sun Devils.
Team: Arizona State Sun Devils
Conference: Pac-12 Conference
Current Record: 3–8 (2–6)
Head Coach: Kenny Dillingham enters his 1st season as head coach at Arizona State where he is currently 3–8 (2–6) on the year, and has the Sun Devils playing competitively despite the bowl ban and myriad of injuries.
Before he arrived at his alma mater, Dillingham was considered to be one of the brightest offensive minds in college football, as well as one of the top, up-and-coming college assistants.
Overall, he is 3–8 (2–6) as a college football head coach.
2022 Record: Finishing the 2022 season 3–9 (2–7) record, the Sun Devils had a bit of a disappointing season as ASU let go of Herm Edwards midseason and let Shaun Aguano take over as interim head coach.
ASU limped to a 3–9 finish, losing its last four straight, including a season-ending loss to rival Arizona in the annual Territorial Cup.
Key Returners / Starters:
The Sun Devils run a bit more of a pro-style offense that is predicated on speed, spreading the field, and getting the ball into the hands of its playmakers.
And at quarterback, the Sun Devils have had to use a few different arms this season (mainly because of injuries); however, look for Tucson native Trenton Bourguet to get the start under center.
Appearing in eight games, Trenton has thrown for 1,486 yards on 151-248 passing (60.9 percent) with one touchdown to just four interceptions.
Also getting reps at QB has been freshman Jaden Rashada who has shown a bit of promise despite injury, as well as former Notre Dame transfer, Drew Pyne.
Using several weapons, ASU’s QB’s likes to get the ball into the hands of Elijah Badger (one of the better receivers in the conference), along with wide receiver/tight end Jalin Conyers, Xavier Guillory, and Melquan Stovall most notably.
In the backfield for the Devils is a more-than-capable running back in Cameron Skattebo, as well as DeCarlos Brooks. Plus, Bourguet does have some wiggle and can tuck it and run a bit.
And while this offense has been far from deadly, this is a game that Arizona’s defense cannot overlook. So far in 2023, ASU is averaging 17.3 points and totaling roughly 323.7 yards per game.
Where ASU has struggled this season is finding the end zone with any consistency. While they can move the ball, they have not put up many points.
So not giving up big plays, or letting ASU find a rhythm will be paramount for the Wildcats’ defense to be successful. Arizona cannot overlook the Sun Devils, or they will be in for a surprise.
ASU’s defense is physical but it has seen its fair share of inconsistencies so far this year! Using a 4-2-5 defense, this is a defense that is aggressive and likes to attack.
Largely led by playmakers Chris Edmonds, Shamari Simmons, Tate Romney, Caleb McCullough, B.J. Green II, and Prince Dorbah among several others, this is a defense that is laden with several quality players and personnel; however, inconsistency has been the key.
Up front, Arizona’s offensive line will need to keep Noah Fifita upright as well as open holes for its backs as guys like Green II, Dorbah, Clayton Smith, and Dashaun Mallory do a solid job in pressuring the backfield and creating disruption.
Together, ASU’s defense has accumulated 26.0 sacks and 62.0 tackles for loss through 11 games.
In the secondary is where the Sun Devils will be tested. Tasked with slowing down Arizona’s prolific passing attack, ASU is allowing 239.4 passing yards per game to opposing teams and has just four interceptions this season.
Defensive backs Chris Edmonds, Shamari Simmons, Ro Torrence, Jordan Clark, and Edward Woods will be the ones to watch out for, and if Arizona is going to win, they are going to have to take care of the football and attack ASU’s weaknesses.
Game information and details for Arizona Football:
When: Saturday, November 25th, 2023
Time: 1:30 PM MST
Where: Mountain America Stadium – Frank Kush Field – Tempe, AZ (53,599)
Overall Series Record: 50-45-1 Arizona. In what has been a hotly contested rivalry, Arizona has led the overall series; however, this is a rivalry that has largely gone in favor of the Sun Devils in recent history as ASU has won 14 of the last 21 meetings, including five-straight from 2017-21.
Last Meeting vs. Arizona: Last year in Tucson, the Wildcats battled, coming away with a narrow, 38-35 victory over ASU to snap the Devils’ five-game winning streak, returning the Cup to its rightful place!
My Prediction: Arizona 37 ASU 20 – It is rivalry week, and that means there is no love lost for those guys up north. And as we’ve learned over the years, anything can happen in this rivalry as records often do not matter, and once again, we should be in store for another good one.
Not needing any extra motivation, the Wildcats are rolling and I don’t see that changing this week as Arizona goes into Tempe and uses a balanced attack to beat the Devils in Mountain America Stadium for the first time since 2011.