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Duel in the desert: Cats hope to play ASU spoiler again

File photo/Arizona Daily Wildcat
A UA student dangles a plush doll of ASU's mascot, Sparky, while students storm the goalpost after the Wildcats' upset over the Sun Devils for ownership of last year's Territorial Cup. The tradition between the two schools began in 1899, and Arizona will look to add to its 44 victories in the series when it takes on ASU Saturday in Tempe.
By Charles Renning
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
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Football heads to Tempe for

in-state rivalry

The field will be 100 yards, they will play for 60 minutes and it will be 11-on-11; but to many Arizona football players, Friday's rivalry game with ASU is not going to be like any other game they've played this season.

"It's nothing like you've ever experienced before," said senior safety Darrell Brooks, who will be playing the last game of his Arizona career. "It's not like any other game you play all year. It's all about pride."

The Wildcats and the Sun Devils face off in Sun Devil Stadium at 1 p.m. in the annual contest for the Territorial Cup, with Arizona (3-7, 2-5 Pacific 10 Conference) playing for state bragging rights and ASU (5-5, 3-4) for a bowl berth.

Although no one on either side has said much about the bad feelings between the two schools, many have acknowledged the uniqueness of the game.

"It's going to be like our own little bowl game between UA and ASU," said senior running back Mike Bell. "You can expect the best competition of every player of each team."

Both teams enter the contest coming off losses two weeks ago, with Arizona falling 38-14 to Washington and ASU being bested by UCLA.

Although a win for the Wildcats wouldn't mean more than finishing with one more win than they did a season ago, it would prevent the Sun Devils from making their second consecutive trip to a bowl game.

"The fact that I get a chance to put a stamp on ruining their season gets me excited, but at the same time, that's not why I play every week," said senior tight end Brad Britton. "We've got to get up like any normal game."

All-Time Series Review

The Arizona football team has traveled to Tempe for the annual Territorial Cup game five times in the last 10 seasons entering Friday, with mostly success:

2003: ASU 28, Arizona 7
2001: Arizona 34, ASU 21
1999: ASU 42, Arizona 27
1997: Arizona 28, ASU 16
1995: Arizona 31, ASU 28

Much of the responsibility for beating ASU will ride on the defense.

The Sun Devils bring in one of the nation's top offenses, averaging 518 yards and 37 points a game, led by redshirt freshman quarterback Rudy Carpenter and senior receiver Derek Hagan.

Arizona head coach Mike Stoops and his ASU counterpart, Dirk Koetter, agreed that the game would most likely be won on the defensive side of the ball, with the winner of the turnover battle probably taking home the Territorial Cup.

Last season, the Wildcats forced five turnovers to ASU's two, en route to upsetting the then-No. 18 Sun Devils 34-27 in Tucson.

"We beat them last year and we have the trophy, and we've got to keep the trophy," said sophomore defensive lineman Yaniv Barnett.

Stoops said he believes his team is better than they were at this point last year, and that a lot of it has to do with the influx of young talent, including freshman quarterback Willie Tuitama and first-year receiver Mike Thomas. Both players enter Friday coming off injuries but are expected to play.

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