Which head coach in Saturdays Territorial Cup has more pressure on them to win the game? Todd Graham lost to the Wildcats in 2014. Rich Rodriguez isn’t having much success with in-state recruiting in 2015. Graham was supposed to have a team competing for a seat at the College Football Playoff table. Rodriguez has seen the Wildcat program slide back in 2015.
I am not one to be critical of the job Rich Rod has done this season. The Wildcats were doomed the day their schedule came out last January. No bye week was a death-blow. Just look at the SEC schedule this week. #11 Florida is hosting Florida Atlantic,The Citadel plays at South Carolina, Idaho travels to Auburn, Georgia Southern plays at Georgia, Charleston Southern goes to #2 Alabama. Complete JOKE!!
Rich Rod could’ve used some scrimmages like that this season. His team pulled off a remarkable 2OT upset of #10 Utah last Saturday and should have just enough gas left in the tank for the rivalry game. He has lost most of his playmakers on both sides of the football to injuries. With no weeks off and a brutal travel schedule with late start times, the deck was stacked against much success in my opinion. The fact that they are bowl eligible is pretty impressive given the obstacles that have been in their way.
There is more pressure on Graham to win Saturdays matchup. As hard as it is for me to believe, there are still some who gauge whether Arizona State has successful football seasons based soley off of the result of the Arizona game. Silly, but true.
Both teams have had disappointing seasons, but the Sun Devils were hailed as a national title contending team before the opening week of the season. Winning Saturday would slightly ease the embarrassment of not living up to the preseason hype of the national media and the head coach. What’s been the most frustrating part of the Sun Devils season is the inconsistency on display from quarter to quarter. Other than the UCLA game, have they played a complete four quarters in 2015? No…
Look, I get it. The rivalry means alot to some, but facts are facts. The stadium is not going to be filled on Saturday. Both teams are looking at going to a second or third tier bowl game. The only intrigue to me is whether or not this will be Rodriguez’ final time coaching on the opposite sideline of Graham. We will know the future of Rich Rod in the next couple of weeks if not sooner. He’s done the best job possible of deflecting away the rumors of schools back east pursuing him. Graham has a couple of major in-state recruiting victories for his 2016 class, but until they sign the dotted line in February, I will reserve gushing about the haul. I’ve seen too many big time recruits “flip” (QB Josh Dobbs signing day 2013).