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We said it then: A look back at Territorial Cup in history

November 24, 2018

There has been no rhyme, and no reason. Bad Arizona teams beating good Arizona State teams. Sorry Sun Devils lambasting winning Wildcats. The last 91 editions of one of the best rivalries in the West have indeed been wild.

Let’s take a look back at select excerpts from the Daily Star’s perspective.

Five years ago ...

The Sun Devils were a surging squad, ranked 13th in the country when the two teams met on Nov. 30, 2013. Arizona, well, the Wildcats were a whole bunch of Ka’Deem Carey. Perhaps the greatest Wildcat in history, Carey was dominant throughout the season and no less impactful against the Sun Devils. But he wasn’t enough to overcome an ASU squad led by the 1-2 punch of D.J. Foster on the ground and Jaelen Strong through the air. With Taylor Kelly dropping bombs, the Sun Devils struck early and often, leading 27-0 before Arizona scored its first points. With 124 rushing yards and two touchdowns by Foster and 142 receiving yards and a score from Strong, Carey’s 157 rushing yards wasn’t enough to overcome the onslaught. The Wildcats would go on to finish the season at 8-5 and the Sun Devils at 10-4, setting the stage for a reversal of fortune one year later, when Arizona surged ahead.

The Next Day’s Headline: “Cats Crushed”

We said it then: “Ka’Deem Carey sat on a makeshift table on the UA sideline with his uniform as green as it has been all season. Inches in front of him, B.J. Denker sat with his elbows on his thighs. Their heads were exactly where no Arizona Wildcats fan or coach wanted them to be — down. The Territorial Cup will remain empty for the UA for another season.”

Greg Hansen said it then: “There was more than enough blame to go around on Arizona’s sideline Saturday night. The Wildcats couldn’t effectively block the ASU defensive front, and they never gave any indication they could stop, or even stall, the Sn Devils’ Rose Bowl Express.”

10 years ago ...

With an offense led by a pair of potent backs in Nic Grigsby and Keola Antolin and the dangerous Willie Tuitama at quarterback, plus a little guy named Rob Gronkowski, not to mention a defensive unit that featured several future NFL players, the Wildcats were a bit of a disappointment a decade ago. After a 4-1 start, the Wildcats were just 6-5 when they met the Sun Devils at home. ASU may have been an even bigger disappointment at 5-6. But Arizona may as well have won the Super Bowl by preventing the Sun Devils from a postseason appearance as the Wildcats won, 31-10, in front of the then-sixth biggest crowd in Arizona Stadium (58,704 in attendance). UA broke things open with a 21-0 third quarter, as Tuitama found Delashaun Dean for a 10-yard touchdown, Grigsby scored a 12-yard touchdown run and Mike Thomas followed up with a 52-yard interception return for touchdown in a five-minute stretch.

Arizona would advance to the Las Vegas Bowl, where it would beat BYU 31-21.

The Next Day’s Headline: “Deal Wildcats In”

We said it then: “Arizona’s football players were exiting Arizona Stadium following their 31-10 win over Arizona State when the thank-yous start.”

“Thank you Robby,” one fan screamed at tight end Rob Gronkowski.

“Thank you, No. 57,” another bellowed at walk-on linebacker Jeremy Samoy.

“Number 75!” a third fan screamed at Joe Longacre, “Thanks.”

The Arizona Wildcats took back the Territorial Cup, officially ended their decade-long streak of mediocrity, and gave fans something to celebrate Saturday, routing rival Arizona State behind a rousing, second-half comeback.”

Greg Hansen said it then: “There’s a punt. Money Mike Thomas is gone. Home run. You haven’t had so much fun since 1998. You’re hugging the loudmouthed fan you have hated for all these years. It’s Arizona 28, ASU 10 and the frustration and heartache of 10 seasons are forgotten.”

25 years ago ...

The Desert Storm defense will go down as one of the best units on either side of the ball in Arizona history. And for good reason — The Wildcats didn’t allow more than 14 points in any of the first five games and would eventually shut out then No. 10-Miami, 29-0, in the Fiesta Bowl. Not a bad run for Rob Waldrop, Brant Boyer and Co.

But on No. 26, 1993, the Wildcats had one of the best performances in Territorial Cup history, a 34-20 win, which sealed a then-program-best nine wins. All it took from the Wildcats was a 27-point second half. And that, after gaining just 17 yards in the first quarter. Billy Johnson led the way with 106 yards on 11 carries after halftime, and Arizona clinched its best regular season in team history up to that point.

The Next Day’s Headline: “On-target White scores Devils”

They said it then: “More than anything, we wanted to beat ASU,” head coach Dick Tomey said. “We were tired of all the talk and of nobody believing we come win this football game but the guys in our locker room.”

Greg Hansen said it then: “Of all the places to find an Arizona football team, this was the most unlikely: In the winner’s locker room at Sun Devil Stadium, surrounded by men who would beg the Wildcats to be in their $3.1 million New Year’s Day bowl game. ‘It’s the only time we’ve ever been in first place at the end of the year,’ Tomey said. ‘Snowball 1, Hell 0.’ ”

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