“Very. very easily we’ll keep them focused. We’re playing Arizona,” Todd Graham stated. “That takes care of itself. It’s a rival game. Our guys know the significance of that.”
“That game in itself against ASU, there doesn’t need to be anything else to add to it,” said Rich Rodriguez. “That’s as big as it gets for all of our guys. It’s easy to get your guys jacked up for that one.”
This game has as much riding on it as there has in quite some time. If ASU wins, they get the right to host the Pac-12 Championship Game at Sun Devil Stadium against Stanford on December 7th. If Arizona wins, they will not only force ASU to hit to road for the right to get to Rose Bowl, but the Wildcats would eclipse their win total from 2012 and get them in position for a better bowl game.
Though this is just the 11th time since both schools joined the Pac-10/12 in 1978 that both have had a winning record going into the game, this game has had it’s share of post-season implications for at least one of the teams in the game in the past. In 1982 and 1986, ASU needed a win over U of A to get to Rose Bowl but the Wildcats won them both. Going into Saturday’s game, the team with the worse record coming in has won the game 11 times since that 1978 season where they joined the conference. The Wildcats can play spoiler yet again in 2013 and help themselves in the process.
To further prove that you can forget what you know about both teams from a season before they face-off against one another, there have been trends over the last few years that defy logic. The road team has won the last four meetings between the two teams and in addition, the underdog has won the last three. In fact in those last three meetings, the team who has had the lead going into the fourth quarter, has ultimately lost the game.
The battle for the oldest rivalry trophy in the nation kicks-off on Saturday at 7:30pm from Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.