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Match Preview: Arizona vs. Arizona State



Time: 1:00 p.m. MST

Television: FS1 (Adam Alexander, Devin Gardner)

On-line: Fox Sports Online

Radio: 1290 AM, 107.5 FM (Brian Jeffries, Lamont Lovett); Sirius XM 134/198

The Arizona Wildcats host the Arizona State Sun Devils for the 96th edition of the Territorial Cup this Friday afternoon at Arizona Stadium. Arizona tops Arizona State in the Territorial Cup with a record of 49-45-1. The Sun Devils have extended that lead in recent years, winning five straight matchups, and the Wildcats’ last home win in the Territorial Cup came in 2016, a crucial 56-35 win over the Sun Devils in front of over 50,000 fans.

“I think it’s a great game,” said Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch. “I think it’s a big game for older guys who have been a part of this program for a while and haven’t had a win yet. I think it’s a big, big game for our young guys that they can help send our older guys off and carry the momentum of winning that game into the off-season. I think it’s a big game for our staff.

“There have been a lot of great improvements across our team all season and it would be very exciting to finish strong at home. I think that with our team as a whole they continue to improve and keep getting better.”

This is likely Shaun Aguano’s last game as ASU head coach, and his experience coaching within the state has ensured the Sun Devils know the importance of the rivalry.

“This is a one-game season and this game probably means more to them and to the state of Arizona than anyone can really imagine,” he said. “They talk about the Territorial Cup but they don’t know why and the story. WWe spent about five to six minutes watching a video about the history of the Territorial Cup so the guys get a good understanding of what we’re playing about.”

If Arizona wins, it will likely be because quarterback Jayden de Laura is putting together a strong game. De Laura has logged 260 completions, 25 touchdown passes and 3,485 yards this year, marking 6th, 6th and 5th all-time in the program’s single-season leaderboards. Arizona’s passing offense currently ranks fifth among all FBS programs at an average of 329.2 yards through the air per game. De Laura also currently ranks fifth nationally with an average of 316.8 yards per game.

The Sun Devils have their own strengths offensively as a running back Xazavian Valladay is one of the best in the country. His 13 20+ yard rushing plays this season ranks seventh in the FBS and his 16 total 20-yard plays are 17th in the country and sixth among running backs.

Valladay has lunged for a touchdown in seven straight games — the longest streak for a Sun Devil since Cam Marshall had nine straight in 2011. His 16 total touchdowns this season is seventh in the FBS and all-time leader in the Pac-12. Valladay has had 112 explosive runs (10+) yards since 2018 — the third most among active FBS backs. On his way to the third 1,000-yard rushing year 43 of his career, he has rushed for 100 yards seven times this season.

predictions

Jason Scheer (8-3): I think the only season I wanted to win Arizona State was when Kevin Sumlin was the coach and I was smarter enough to see what was going to happen. The Wildcats are the better team this season, although I’m not sure how much that means in this game. Arizona’s offense should have a strong day, especially when my theory that de Laura isn’t fighting two straight games comes into play. Arizona has been a lot better defensively in the last few games and it will be interesting to see if they can end the season on a high.

I don’t see any defense having a lot of success in this game and it will probably come down to which offense is executed better. I just have more confidence in Arizona’s offense and also wonder how the Sun Devils will react when the going gets tough.

Arizona 45, State of Arizona 31

Shelby Scheer (4-7): I was born and raised in Tucson, so there’s no consideration picking Arizona State to win this game. While I have an open mind, I think Arizona is better than ASU this season.

We’ve seen what happens when a team doesn’t bowl and has nothing to play because their head coach is on his way out. The Sun Devils already had one player to announce his transfer this week and there are others who are likely to be hot on his heels.

Jayden de Laura will play well in this game but keep an eye on the game in progress. This game means a lot to Michael Wiley and he’s quietly put together a great season considering how many touches he gets.

Arizona 35, State of Arizona 28

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