It's Memorial Day Weekend, but the countdown must go on.... After a few football games that have smaller followings it's time to head to the land of the rising sun for a game that may be a bit more known amongst the casuals out there.
No. 77 - Arizona vs. Arizona State (FBS Football):
Many Badger fans know that Wisconsin vs. Minnesota holds the record for most played rivalry in FBS football, however the "Duel in the Desert" between the Wildcats of Arizona and the Sun Devils of Arizona State holds a record of it's own. The Territorial Cup that they now play for on a traveling basis every season was first awarded in 1899, making it the oldest trophy in college football according to the NCAA.
In fact, one could argue that the history behind the trophy itself has a lot to do with the hatred between these two schools. Well than and the whole big brother/little brother thing. After the Arizona State victory in that 1899 game (then known as Arizona Normal School) the trophy went "missing" for the next 80 years and after it's rediscovery it's ownership was a point of contention between the two schools until they finally agreed to make it a traveling trophy.
But the hatred between these schools goes much deeper it goes to the culture of the cities of Tempe and Tuscon as well as the academic reputations and nightlife of the schools. ASU is seen as a "party school" and Arizona has a bit more of an "academic school" reputation, but both have their share of great academics and party school in them.
It could also be argued that Arizona has a bit of a complex because it's been around for 125 years, yet over the past 30 or so years it's taken a back seat to the much younger ASU. However, that may change a bit with this bit of information:
For those of us 35 and younger the memories of these two teams would lead you to believe that the Sun Devils are the better of the two teams and while for the most part that may be correct, it's not the case in the series as Arizona holds a 47-37-1 lead in the "Duel in the Desert." But in games since the move from the WAC to the Pac-12 (Pac-10 originally) the Sun Devils have the advantage at 19-14-1.
The upcoming 2012 game certainly will have a bit more spice to it as both the Sun Devils and Wildcats will be welcoming some higher profile coaches in Todd Graham and Rich Rodriguez respectively. Not only that but the way the last few games have ended between these teams with ASU winning the 2010 version by just one point at 30-29 and Arizona stealing away the chances of ASU going to the first every Pac-12 championship game with a 31-27 victory.
No matter what the records these two schools leave it all out on the field for the Territorial Cup and between the twisted history of the trophy and competitiveness of the games on the field this game earns the 77th spot on our list of must see events.