Get ready for the 93rd edition of the Duel in the Desert
Arizona was defeated 41-40 against ASU, losing the territorial cup and bowl eligibility.
Throw out the records, move on from last week and get ready for the most intense 60 minutes of the season, it’s time for the biggest game of the year in Arizona — it’s the 93rd edition of the Duel in the Desert.
Arizona (4-7, 2-6 Pac-12) will travel up to Tempe this week for a late Saturday night kickoff at Sun Devil Stadium. The Wildcats have nothing to play for except pride, as they only have four wins this year and can match the same amount of wins as last season with a win. ASU on the other hand is playing for which bowl game they’ll go to. They already have six wins after beating No. 6 Oregon last week.
Both teams had a fast start to the season as Arizona started at 4-1 and were sitting atop the Pac-12 South for a week after they beat Colorado. Arizona State started at 5-1 and got up to a national ranking of 17. But in the middle of October both teams went ice cold. The Wildcats are still on a losing streak, which is now up to six games, while the Sun Devils were on a four-game losing streak before beating Oregon a week ago.
For Arizona, the story is the same. Kevin Sumlin will still use a two quarterback system and won’t announce who starts until the game starts. Grant Gunnell has started the last two games for Arizona but has been pulled very early on in favor of Khalil Tate. Tate hasn’t been able to do much more, as Arizona has only one touchdown in the last two games combined.
As bad as the offense has been, they’ve still been in a place to stay in the game because of the way the defense has been playing. The last two weeks, Arizona’s defense was able to keep it a two-score game until the third quarter, but the offense hasn’t been able to do anything.
If Arizona has any hope in this one, they need to score a touchdown early on just to grab some momentum and help out their defense. It could be tough again though, since ASU has the third-best run defense in the conference. Arizona is going to need J.J. Taylor to touch the ball often. It seems whenever the ball is in his hands, good things happen for the Wildcats.
For the Sun Devils, they have had to rely on true freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels all year and he has delivered. He’s only thrown two interceptions all year compared to 17 touchdowns and has a total of 2,644 passing yards. Keep an eye on running back Eno Benjamin, also for the Sun Devils, as he only needs 85 more yards to get to 1,000 for the year. ASU’s dynamic offense has many different weapons all over the field and can score in many different ways just like they did last week against Oregon.
All together this game could end up being another classic between these two teams if Arizona has their best performance in weeks. It will be another late kickoff for both these teams and "Pac-12 after dark" will be in full force.
The Territorial Cup will take place at Sun Devil Stadium at 8 p.m. and will be broadcasted by ESPN.
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