There’s no national championship at stake. No conference title. No win-or-go-home situations, really. None of that matters, though.
This is the battle for the Territorial Cup.
For the 95th time, the Arizona Wildcats and Arizona State Sun Devils will square off for the oldest college football rivalry trophy in the nation. All that’s available for the taking is a year’s worth of bragging rights. And that’s plenty for these two programs.
It’s a matchup that’s always circled for both Arizona and Arizona State. Not only players and personnel but also fans. And for the first time in the storied history of this Duel in the Desert rivalry, Arizonans can get skin in on the game with legal sports betting.
But who to take? Do you back your fandom? Or do you abide by the odds?
Arizona State a heavy sports betting favorite against Arizona
Throughout the course of the Territorial Cup rivalry, which dates back to 1899, there have certainly been a number of memorable and not-as-great games between Arizona and Arizona State.
If the odds are any indication, you could put the 2021 edition in the “dud” category.
Depending on which of the betting apps in Arizona you look at, only four other games in the country feature larger point spreads than this showdown, which features the Sun Devils (7-4 overall, 5-3 Pac-12) as heavy favorites.
This shouldn’t come as much of a shock. After all, until a loss at Oregon State last week, Arizona State was jockeying for the Pac-12 Conference South Division title while Arizona (1-10, 1-7) is working on one of the worst seasons in program history.
On paper, it certainly seems as if the Sun Devils will book another Territorial Cup blowout, a year after absolutely housing the Wildcats 70-7. Arizona State, bowl eligible for the third time in four years under Herm Edwards and the ninth time in 11 seasons, has allowed a conference-best 323 yards per game.
On the other side of the ball, Arizona has averaged just 17.4 points per game, which is better than only eight other teams in the nation. The Wildcats have recorded more turnovers (21) than touchdowns (19) this season. In fact, no other team in the FBS has more interceptions than Arizona’s 17.
Arizona Wildcats (1-10, 1-7) at Arizona State Sun Devils (7-4, 5-3)
Date: Saturday, Nov. 27
Time: 2 p.m. MST
Location: Sun Devil Stadium — Tempe
TV Coverage: Pac-12 Network
Arizona at Arizona State: Renewing the college football rivalry
After last season’s historic drubbing, which featured the most points scored by a single team in Territorial Cup, it would be difficult to imagine a similar rout occurring again.
Then, you take a look at the 2021 matchup.
Arizona State, which has won four straight in this rivalry and seven of the last nine games, is on a path to the program’s best regular-season record in seven years. Arizona, with the worst record in the Pac-12, is en route to one of the worst seasons in program history. Not counting the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign, Only one other time did the Wildcats finish with fewer than two wins: 1957 and 1899.
A victory Saturday would give the Sun Devils their fifth consecutive against Arizona, making it Arizona State’s longest winning streak in the series since reeling off nine straight in the 1960s and 1970s.
The production of Arizona State QB Jayden Daniels (2,135 yards passing, 584 rushing) is complemented by RB Rachaad White, whose 14 rush TDs this season is tied for 10th-most in the country. Meanwhile, Arizona QB Will Plummer has racked up 1,280 yards passing this season, more than half of which as gone to Stanley Berryhill, who has posted 656 yards receiving.
All of this sets up Arizona as a massive underdog. Although, crazier things have happened in this series. And the right combination of confidence, blind hope and unpredictable fortune can make this quite the payday for some AZ bettors.