While most of the attention of the ASU-UA rivalry gets directed toward the football game, the Territorial Cup Series encompasses all NCAA Division I sports in which both schools participate. Each of The State Press beat writers wrote what the rivalry means to each sport.
Football (by Josh Nacion)
Is there really any explanation needed for what the Territorial Cup rivalry means on the football field?
Football is the premier stage for one of the nation’s most heated collegiate rivalries. No disrespect to the other sports, but the gridiron is where the stakes are at their highest. When you think of the nastiness and the grittiness of the rivalry, the first place you think of is on the football field. Fights, drama, upsets, politics and big game implications — everything needed to make a rivalry great is all there in football.
It’s so heated that in the 1950s, UA supporters broke into Sun Devil Stadium and burned “No 200″ when Arizona State College was about to be renamed to “Arizona State University” (thanks to “Territorial” author Shane Dale for the assist). ASU’s “A” Mountain is vandalized the most during football game week. The rivalry on the football field has its own book and its own trophy.
Today, football coach Todd Graham has embraced the Territorial Cup rivalries. Along with BCS National Championship, Rose Bowl Championship and Pac-12 Championship logos, a decal of the UA logo overlapped by a pitchfork is present around every football facility. Graham brings in former players as guest speakers for the team to talk about what the rivalry meant to them in the past.
Even with Wisconsin, USC, UCLA and Notre Dame all on this year’s schedule, ask any player, and they’ll say the Nov. 30 showdown against UA is the most important game this year.
Men’s basketball comes the closest to matching the intensity in football but let’s face it: UA has that sport on lock all around. The rivalry in football has been practically even all around for the last several decades and that’s why the gridiron makes the Territorial Cup rivalry great as it is.
UA leads the all-time series 47-38-1.
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Soccer (by Justin Janssen)
In the sport of women’s soccer, the Territorial Cup has always been a one-sided affair.
It took 14 games before UA defeated the ASU soccer team, finally breaking through in the 2008 season.
ASU holds a 15-2-1 all-time record in the series, but nine of the past 10 games between the two schools were decided by one goal or fewer.
To this day, UA has never defeated ASU in regulation, needing double overtime in both of its wins, in 2008 and 2009.
Seventh-year ASU coach Kevin Boyd has been a part of many gripping games in the series and is the only ASU coach to lose a game to UA.
That’s not a knock on him, but more a reflection of the dominance ASU owned in the series.
For years, UA resided in the bottom of the Pac-12. After joining the then Pac-10 in soccer in 1995, the Wildcats have finished last or tied for last in the conference 11 times, including the last four seasons.
For now, ASU is putting off the rivalry. The Sun Devils don’t play UA until the end of the season, but there is a chance to see them in this weekend’s tournament. The Wildcats’ leading scorer is former Sun Devil, junior forward Ali Doller.
In the Sun Devil Classic later this year, ASU and UA play two common opponents, and the same will happen when they both go to Tucson the next week.
“For this tournament and the next one when we’re at their place, they’re just another Pac-12 conference team,” Boyd said. “Once we get through these weekends and we get toward the end of the year, that’s when the rivalry will ramp up for us.”
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Cross-country (by Lorenzo Zazueta)
Just the mention of the Territorial Cup elicits strong feelings and emotions from the rivalry games of ASU and UA.
Ask any ASU student, making it to the postseason in any sport is nice, but the result of the ASU-UA rivalry game is what matters most and thus paramount to a successful season.
ASU women’s cross-country coach Ryan Cole said that the Sun Devils put in a strong effort no matter who they compete against, but when it comes to UA, the motivation to win is that much higher.
“You’ll always find that you can dig a little deeper when there is somebody next to you or behind you wearing an Arizona uniform, “ Cole said. “There’s always a little extra motivation when it’s Arizona.”
Cole said that the most exciting competitions are the dual meets, when the track and field teams also compete against UA.
“It’s really just your athletes vs. their athletes on the track, he said. “You’re trying to duke it out with those guys and that’s always really exciting.”
Cole said that when he first started coaching ASU, the rivalry between the two schools wasn’t what it is now in cross-country and track and field.
“The track and field and cross-country teams were very good, and Arizona wasn’t really relevant, but over the years, they have improved,” he said.
Cole said because UA is ranked in the top 10, it has to go through ASU to get to the championships, and that makes the rivalry meaningful.
“Everybody at ASU pulls together knowing that every sport wants to beat Arizona,” Cole said.
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Swim and dive (by Nolan Kwit)
Being in the pool does not douse the burning rivalry with UA for the swim and dive team as it looks forward to this year’s Territorial Cup Series.
The Sun Devils look to grab points following their loss of both men’s and women’s points to the UA last season.
Freshman swimmer Kat Simonovic said she looks forward to the next season.
“UA has been faster than ASU,” she said, “The next level of ASU swimming is taking down UA.”
The swim and dive teams have never received points in the previous Territorial Cup Series since its inception in 2009-10 school year. The athletes said they are more motivated than ever to take down their rivals and claim dominance in the pool.
The teams have ample time to train and figure out their best strategies for the races as they do not face each other until the Pac-12 championships later in the second semester. At the championships, whoever places higher for total score, per team, at the end wins one point for their school.
Until that time comes, both teams will be training relentlessly to gain distance on their rivals and come home with points for their schools and leave the other in their wake.
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