Arizona Football

With bowl game out of reach, focus for Arizona on Territorial Cup game vs. ASU

Arizona’s defense played admirably against Washington State, not allowing the Cougars’ offense to score a touchdown in the second half of the 31-20 loss at Arizona Stadium (Arizona Athletics photo)

Arizona has already doubled the Las Vegas expectation of its win total with a 4-7 record heading into the Territorial Cup game against Arizona State.

Four victories to now is meaningful coming off a 1-23 record over the previous three seasons.

Winning one more game is paramount.

“We have to treat adversity and prosperity the same,” Arizona coach Jedd Fisch said after Saturday’s 31-20 loss to Washington State, knocking the Wildcats out of contention for a bowl game.

“The Territorial Cup is its own game. It’s an 11-game season plus one. It’s our job to not let that game affect any other game. Today was not good enough.”

Arizona will attempt to end the Sun Devils’ recent dominance in the Territorial Cup series of five straight wins, including a 70-7 outcome the last time ASU played in Tucson in 2020.

The Sun Devils (3-8) have lost four of their last five games following Saturday’s 31-7 loss to Oregon State in Tempe.

Interim coach Shaun Aguano, who took over for fired Herm Edwards the fourth game into the season, said that with both teams out of the bowl picture, Friday’s game is “all about pride.”

“They have something to prove, and we have something to prove to make sure that we keep the Cup here,” Aguano said. “Now it’s mano-a-mano and who’s gonna be the best team.

“We’re gonna go down there and try our best and put out the best product that we can. We’ve got five days (to prepare). We’ve got to be ready to go.”

The game will kickoff at 1 p.m. and will televised on FS1.

The coaching staff is different for Arizona from the 70-7 loss and only 13 Wildcats remain on the roster from that team two years ago.

With ASU’s struggles this season, that ultimately forced the exit of Edwards, the Sun Devils are aware of what could happen if they don’t improve upon Saturday’s performance against Oregon State.

ASU had only 13 first downs and 276 yards of total offense.

Trenton Bourguet, the standout Marana graduate who has provided Arizona State’s offense with a spark off the bench, passed for 122 yards while completing 20 of 32 pass attempts.

The Sun Devils did not cross into Oregon State territory after 9:43 remained in the third quarter.

“If we don’t prepare right, we (will) get embarrassed (against Arizona),” ASU linebacker Kyle Soelle said.

Arizona could have played its way into a bowl game by beating Washington State and ASU coming off the surprising upset win last week at UCLA.

With that goal squashed, Fisch said his team’s focus has immediately shifted: “Normally, we have a 24-hour rule. Now we have a 24-minute rule. It’s time to move on to the Cup.”


— Former Washington State QB Jayden de Laura struggled against his ex-teammates with four interceptions after he threw only eight in the previous 10 games. On the bright side: With 357 yards passing against the Cougars, he has amassed 3,485 passing yards and now ranks fifth in program history in passing yards in a season.

— Sophomore WR Dorian Singer matched his career high in catches with nine and set a career high in receiving yards with 176. It marked Singer’s fourth game this season eclipsing the 100-yard mark.

— WR Jacob Cowing caught six passes, increasing his total to 80 receptions this season.. His 80 catches ranks sixth most by a Wildcat in a season. Cowing’s streak of consecutive games with at least one reception is now at 43 straight games, which is the longest streak in the nation.

— The Wildcats amassed a season-high eight tackles for a loss. Arizona had seven tackles for loss in the previous week’s upset win at No. 9 UCLA.

— With 75 yards against the Cougars, WR Tetairoa McMillan has 702 receiving yards — the most by an Arizona freshman in school history. He has surpassed the previous record of 696 yards by Nate Phillips in 2013. McMillan is also the third Arizona wideout to surpass the 700-yard mark this season, marking only the only time that Arizona has sported three 700-yard receivers in a season. McMillan’s 47-yard catch in the first half against the Cougars also set the freshman’s career-high for longest reception, surpassing his 46-yard catch at Washington.

— PK Tyler Loop converted on a pair of field goals for the Wildcats from 38 and 47 yards, which pushed his career kicking numbers to 26 makes on 29 attempts. He is a perfect 13 of 13 on field goal attempt between 30 and 40 yards for his career. Loop’s 47 yarder was one yard short of his career long.

— TE Tanner McLachlan finished Saturday’s game with four receptions, moving him to second place in Arizona’s history for receptions by a tight end in a season with 33. He now trails Rob Gronkowski by 14 catches (2008) for first place.

— S Gunner Maldonado, who played for Aguano when Aguano coached at Chandler High School, tied his career-high in tackles with nine against the Cougars. He matched his nine-tackle total at Utah two weeks prior.

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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