Friday parts of Tucson were hit with upwards of two inches of rain in one of the wettest two-day spans in recent memory.
Saturday afternoon another perfect storm hit.
This time the then fifth-ranked Oregon Ducks were the one’s getting drenched by an inspired Arizona Wildcats team who sprinted out to a 28-9 halftime lead and coasted to 42-16 romp in front of close to 46,000 people at Arizona Stadium.
It marked the first signature for Rich Rodriguez in the Old Pueblo and added even more intrigue to Saturday’s Territorial Cup showdown against in-state rival Arizona State who, hours after UofA students stormed the field in Tucson, had their own celebration at the Rose Bowl knocking off UCLA 38-33 to clinch the Pac-12 South championship.
Now the ‘Cats (7-4, 4-4) and Sun Devils (9-2, 7-1) look to continue their momentum Saturday night at Sun Devil Stadium in one of the longest, intense and, at times, dirtiest rivals in the country.
“The intensity is going to be there,” Rodriguez told Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat in a a phone interview Monday. “There’s a lot riding on both teams. The intensity certainly should be at an all-time high…I think our guys are going to be extremely focused.
One player we know will be ready is junior tailback and Tucson native Ka’Deem Carey who torched the Ducks for 206 yards and four touchdowns on an eye-popping 48 carries. Along the way he became the ‘Cats all-time rushing yardage and scoring leader. His big game against the mighty Ducks has elevated his status as a dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate.
Rich Rod certainly has no doubts.
“Obviously he’s a phenomenal player. As great of a year as he had last year leading the nation in rushing we think he’s even better this year. I think he’s the best running back in the country and lucky we got him.”
The Devils have their own talented skill players although the status of star running back Marion Grice is still in question after injuring his leg towards the conclusion of the UCLA game.
“They’re playing really good football in all three phases,” Rodriguez explained to Cesmat. “You can see they’re playing with a lot of confidence. We’re going to have to play our best game again and hope that they mess up a few times and we’ll see what happens.”
Kickoff Saturday night is set for 7:30.