Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

November 20, 2018 at 10:39 pm.

ASU tries to hold on to Territorial Cup

Arizona State was in control of its destiny for a Pac-12 South title before last week’s loss at Oregon.

Now, the Sun Devils are in control of keeping possession of the Territorial Cup trophy, which goes to the winner of the annual ASU-Arizona rivalry game.

The Sun Devils (6-5, 4-4 Pac-12) have incentive to quickly regroup after the 31-29 loss to the Ducks, which enabled Utah to claim the Pac-12 South title. Playing Arizona (5-6, 4-4) gives ASU the motivation it needs.

The Sun Devils have won four of the past six meetings, including a 42-30 victory last year in a rivalry that dates to 1899.

ASU can also spoil Arizona’s hopes to become bowl eligible.

“There are really emotional fan bases when it comes to this game. It’s one of those rivalries in college football, so that’s always good,” ASU coach Herm Edwards said in his weekly press conference.

“I think our players, not so much the freshmen but the guys who have played in this game, they understand the validity of it. There’s some unpleasantries exchanged by fan bases and everything else, a competitive environment for the players, fans too. This is a really unique rivalry.”

Unlike other weeks during the season, Edwards said he will bring in special guests each day to talk to his players about the importance of the rivalry against Arizona.

The Sun Devils’ five losses are by a combined 30 points, including the two-point setback at Oregon. ASU trailed 28-13 at halftime but rallied to cut the lead to 31-29 with 4:35 left on a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Manny Wilkins.

ASU opted to go for the two-point conversion and Wilkins threw a pass to Frank Darby in the back of the end zone. The referee ruled Darby out of bounds. Replays show it was close but never reviewed.

Edwards said he asked a referee if the call was going to be reviewed and was told no and didn’t think further of it.

“I asked and he said, ‘They’re not going to look at it.’ I said, ‘Really?’ What am I going to do? Argue with the guy? I don’t have time to argue with him, I have to move on. Once he said that, I’m in the next mode,” Edwards said.

“We had a chance at the end and we just didn’t finish it off. That’s what happens. I don’t get involved in officiating. I’m smarter than that. I’ve been around too long. Once a decision is made, I’m moving on to the next play. That’s how I want my players to play, that’s how I coach.”