ASU coach Todd Graham raised some eyebrows when he said a Territorial Cup victory was worth five wins after the ASU-Arizona game.
While there is no doubt that the Territorial Cup is the one game circled on everyone's calendar, and the Duel in the Desert has been rated as the most intense rivalry in college football, I find it hard to rationalize that position when four games equates to a third of the season.
"We didn't hit the mark where we wanted to this year, but that one heals you up quite a bit," Graham said. "I liked that one. That was worth about five wins there, at least that's what all the fans say when I talk to them."
Last year ASU football went 10-3 but lost against Arizona. In 2015, the Sun Devils are 6-5 with one game left in the regular season in addition to a bowl. Under Graham’s logic, the 2015 season would be equivalent to 2014 if the Sun Devils lose their final two games (finishing the year 6-7).
"If we won six games, I feel better right now than I did last year," Graham said. "Ever, I don't ever want to experience that again, because that was not good. People were not very happy, and it's pretty miserable when you lose this game."
There is just no way a losing season could be considered comparable to a 10-win. The last time ASU had a losing season it fired its coach (who lost to Arizona). When you have a losing season, the heat is on every week of the season, not just for the rivalry game.
We all know ASU flopped compared to its preseason expectations (No. 15 in the initial AP poll, a College Football Playoff pick by the sport’s most influential analyst, Kirk Herbstreit). ASU became irrelevant nationally after the first game in 2015, a 38-17 loss to Texas A&M.
Some fans would like quarterback Mike Bercovici benched. Others want to see offensive coordinator Mike Norvell fired (he's reportedly the highest paid assistant in the Pac-12).
Should #ASU make a change at QB?— Brad Denny (@BDenny29) November 14, 2015
While there was still a quarterback controversy last season,. ASU climbed to No. 6 in the College Football Playoff ranking late in the season. Sorry, but being in a national championship hunt is more significant than beating the team down South.
If ASU is serious about winning championships, and there's no reason to doubt that given Graham has stressed it from Day 1, it should value those ahead of beating Arizona.
If 11-1 with a loss to Arizona is what it takes to make the Pac-12 championship game, then so be it.
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