The LED ribbon displays at Sun Devil Stadium read “ASU Wins!” for the first time in nearly two months.
The Sun Devils (6-5, 4-4 Pac-12) whipped Washington State 46-7 Saturday to snap ASU’s four-game losing streak.
But it hardly mattered. UA is up next on the schedule.
“I can tell you we know the significance of it and we’re going to work our tails off because we know that’s the most important game,” coach Todd Graham said. “You can go 11-0 and lose that game and it’s an unsuccessful year.”
ASU defeated the Cougars (2-9, 0-8 Pac-12) convincingly on Senior Day to pick up its first home win since Sept. 22 against Utah. After the players sang the fight song to what was left of the student section, fans chanted, “Beat the Wildcats,” as the team went into the Tillman Tunnel.
There’s already a blue “Beat Cats” banner hanging up in the weight room with two Arizona “A” logos in the phrase.
“It’s up right now after the game?” redshirt senior linebacker Brandon Magee said when asked about the banner. “I like that. I’m ready for them. I’m amped up right now. Let’s get it going.”
It doesn’t help when the opponent before the Territorial Cup is probably the worst team in the Pac-12. The Cougars entered Saturday’s game with an ongoing off-the-field investigation on the statements made by junior wide receiver Marquess Wilson. Coupled with their bad play this season, the Cougars were even in disbelief with the way this year has played out.
The Sun Devils completely dominated WSU throughout the game, and it gives them some sort of momentum before Friday’s contest in Tucson.
“It’s going to be huge for us,” junior tight end Chris Coyle said. “Just getting our confidence back like we did today and really produce on the field, I think one of the biggest parts of it was getting back to our run-first offense because that really opened things up for our receivers.”
ASU is now bowl-eligible with the win. The Territorial Cup will play a big factor in whether UA and ASU will go to play their bowl games.
“We’re not done yet – we’re only done at home,” Graham said. “The most important game of the year is coming up next week, and then we’re going to get a bowl championship. We’re not just going to go to a bowl, we’re going to win one.”
Pride is the biggest reward on the line during the Territorial Cup. It didn’t take Graham long to find out how much this game means to people across the state.
“I did 130-something speaking engagements and to every single fan, the most important game is the Territorial Cup,” Graham said. “So we know this is the most important game of the year — bone none. This game isn’t about Todd Graham or any other coach. It’s far bigger than that. It’s about Arizona State versus Arizona and that’s all it needs to be.”
Friday can’t come soon enough.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org