Arizona State (6-5) at Arizona (7-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 23, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Arizona Stadium (51,811) -- Tucson, Washington. Television: ESPN. Home Record: Arizona State 4-2, Arizona 6-1. Away Record: Arizona State 2-3, Arizona 1-3. Neutral Record: Arizona State 0-0, Arizona 0-0. Conference Record: Arizona State 4-4, Arizona 4-4. Series Record: Arizona leads 47-37-1.
GAME NOTES: For the 86th time the Arizona State Sun Devils and Arizona Wildcats will clash on the gridiron for the Territorial Cup when the teams collide at Arizona Stadium on Friday.
The Sun Devils put an end to a four-game losing streak last weekend by throwing up a 46-7 rout over Washington State at Sun Devil Stadium. The win gives Arizona State a 6-5 overall record this season, making it bowl eligible for the second straight time after a three-season hiatus. The Sun Devils have split their first eight Pac-12 games entering the regular-season finale.
This is also the conclusion of the regular season for Arizona which has enjoyed a relatively strong year in the first under Rich Rodriguez. After a 34-23 win over Utah in Salt Lake City, the Wildcats are 7-4 overall this season while posting wins in four of their last five games. The Wildcats will also be eligible for a postseason berth after missing out on the bowl season last year.
Known as the 'Duel in the Desert', the rivalry between these two schools dates back to 1899 on the football field. In that meeting Arizona State pulled out an 11-2 victory but it is the Wildcats that lead the all-time series 47-37-1. Arizona took home the cup last year with a 31-27 win in Temple. The Wildcats have won three of the last four contests.
Arizona State is also under its first season under a new coach, and Todd Graham has certainly guided a unique offense for the Sun Devils. In a conference of prolific offenses, the Sun Devils are the fifth best offensive unit in terms of scoring (36.0 ppg) and total offense (448.3 ypg).
While those numbers don't stand out what has is how Graham has utilized his running backs this season. Three different backs have made major contributions in both the running and passing games. Cameron Marshall (503 yards, 6 TDs) is the top running option and has had limited usage out of the backfield through the air.
The same cannot be said of D.J. Foster and Marion Grice. Foster has rushed for 462 yards and a pair of scores while hauling in 34 passes for 484 yards and an additional four touchdowns. Grice has been utilized less in running g the ball (364) but has brought in the second most receptions on the squad (38) and leads all running backs in the nation in receiving touchdowns (8). Grice's 14 total touchdowns this season is the fourth most in the Pac-12
Tight end Chris Coyle (51 receptions, 639 yards, 5 TDs) is the team's leading pass catcher while Rashad Ross (31 receptions, 445 yards, 3 TDs), Jamal Miles (30 receptions, 313 yards) and Kevin Ozier (20 receptions, 306 yards, 5 TDs) have been consistent producers in Graham's spread attack.
Running the show from under center is Taylor Kelly. The redshirt sophomore has completed 66.9 percent of his pass attempts this season while totaling 2,581 yards and 25 touchdowns to nine interceptions. Kelly is a player that can move in the pocket but has gotten in trouble by taking 30 sacks on the season.
On defense there is no team other than Stanford that is better than Arizona State in limiting opponents yardage totals. Arizona State is surrendering just 335.3 yards per game while ranking fourth in the Pac-12 in scoring defense (23.1 ppg). Getting pressure on opposing backfields has been the key with the Sun Devils leading the Pac-12 in sacks (46) and just one tackle for a loss (99) behind Stanford for the top spot in the conference in that category.
Transferring from Akron was a very good decision for Brandon Magee. The linebacker is the team's leading tackler (87), while also totaling 8.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 of which were sacks. Will Sutton (18.0 TFLs, 10.5 sacks), Carl Bradford (16.0 TFLs, 9.5 sacks), Chris Young (13.5 TFLs) and Junior Onyeali (6.0 sacks) have all been menaces in the backfield. Keelan Johnson (73 tackles, 4 INTs) and Alden Darby (66 tackles, 3 INTs) have each been ballhawks in the secondary.
There was a different look on offense last weekend for Arizona. Starting quarterback Matt Scott was sidelined with a concussion which allowed B.J. Denker to get the start. This week Scott should be set to go which is good news for the Wildcats. Scott has completed 61.5 percent of his pass attempts this season for 3,008 yards and 21 touchdowns, although he has had fewer than 200 yards passing in his past two games. Scott can get it done with his legs as well with 443 yards rushing and five touchdowns on the ground.
Even though Scott can run well, the running game, and arguably the offense in general, goes through Ka'Deem Carey. The Wildcat running back leads the Pac-12 in rushing yards this season with 1,585, while also getting into the end zone 19 times. Carey has been particularly impressive in the last two games when he has racked up 570 yards and six touchdowns in those contests.
In the receiving corps, Austin Hill is hands down the team's best pass catcher. Hill has brought in 68 passes this season for 1,119 yards and eight touchdowns, all of which are team-highs. Hill is second only to Marqise Lee of USC in receiving yards on the Pac-12. Hill's efforts have overshadowed a solid season from Daniel Buckner (58 receptions, 730 yards, 5 TDs) who as been reliable as well this season.
With all the weapons it has on offense, Arizona has been second to only Oregon in picking up yards this season as the Wildcats amass 521.8 yards of total offense on a weekly basis. That puts Arizona in exclusive company as one of only 12 teams at the FBS level to be averaging more than 500 yards of total offense.
Defense has been another story for Arizona. Much of that is a symptom of the rapid pace at which Arizona's offense moves, giving opposing teams plenty of opportunity to pick up yards. The Wildcats are surrendering 488.0 yards of total offense per contest which is better than only Colorado in the Pac-12. The Wildcats have also been scored on quite a bit (33.6 ppg).
Linebackers Jake Fischer and Marquis Flowers have been the leaders for the squad. Fischer has a team-high 98 tackles, while Flowers has racked up 86 stops, 12.0 tackles for loss and a team-leading 5.5 sacks. Tra'Mayne Bondurant (67 tackles, 11.5 TFLs) will also make plays on the defensive side.
This matchup promises to be a high-octane slugfest between two prolific and unique offenses. While Arizona State might have the edge on defense on paper, the Wildcats have been too good at home (6-1) to let the Sun Devils come into Arizona Stadium and push them around.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arizona 38, Arizona State 35
11/21 11:00:10 ET