Arizona Basketball

No party for Sparky: Arizona dominates ASU in Tempe

TEMPE – You must have had an inkling something like Saturday afternoon’s Arizona 59-23 win at Mountain America Stadium was going to happen. Right?


Earlier in the week when asked about the motivation his team would need for Saturday’s meeting with Arizona State, Jedd Fisch said talked about the “billboard.”

His tone made it personal. It’s all he had to say. Anyone paying attention knew revenge – 70-7 before he even got to Tucson – was not so much a dish served cold, but a platter of points served with a hot hand from a quarterback (Noah Fifita) and smooth hands of one of the better wide receivers in the country (Tetairoa McMillan).

Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics.

The two were amazing playing pitch and catch all afternoon. “Backyard football,” Michael Wiley said of their style of play.

“That’s just them, that’s their connection,” said Wiley on the duo’s connection. “It’s special as you can see.”

The two – with their teammates playing along – treated Mountain America as their own playground.

After giving up seven points to ASU in its first drive, it was Arizona every time, all the time. UA scored 45 consecutive points and could have scored more, but Tyler Loop missed a field goal to end the half. Arizona took a 38-7 halftime lead. The 38 points in the opening half were more than UA scored in 88 of the previous 96 meetings with ASU. Its 59 points were the second most in the Territorial Cup (most: 67, 1946).

Arizona made it personal. No pity on the kitty? That was so yesterday.

On Saturday it was: No torque for the fork.

No party for Sparky.

Arizona leveled the Devils.

And even though it wasn’t 70-7 it sure seemed like it. By the time the first half was over it was 38-7 and Arizona was halfway to 76-7. Then wasn’t.

Still, 59-23 didn’t even feel that close.

“I thought it was a really, really dominant performance by our program, by our team, by our seniors,” Arizona coach Jedd Fisch said. “To see our seniors do that was pretty awesome. There’s about 13 guys that were on the team in 2020 (that went through that 70-7 loss) that are still remaining, to be able to have them walk out with a win like today was a great one.”

One of the best, in fact. Arizona is now 9-3 overall and looking to head to a nice mid-level bowl game just two or three months removed from few saying Arizona would go anywhere this year.

But Fisch pointed out the team’s accomplishments in his postgame interview.

Nine wins, making this year only the seventh time it’s happened in school history. One more win and it would be only the fourth time that would happen in school history.

“If our guys can continue to believe and trust the process and keep getting better,” Fisch said, “I think we cannot do it just one year, but I think we can do it each year.”

Time will tell. But Saturday history was in the making.

Fifita threw for 527 total yards, the most ever by an Arizona quarterback in the Territorial Cup. And the most for any UA quarterback all time. He was 30 for 41 with five touchdowns.

McMillan had two touchdowns, among his 11 total catches and 266 total yards in catches for the most in a Territorial Cup. Jacob Cowing had a touchdown, giving him 11 to tie the school record for a season.

And Tanner McLachlan caught seven passes to give him 76 total catches this year to break Rob Gronkowski’s record.

Altogether Arizona had 527 yards through the air, and 619 yards in total offense. It was the most against ASU, well, ever.

Fisch called it “fantastic football” and who’s to argue?

Arizona dominated. It was the first time UA had won in Tempe since 2011 and the first time UA had won back-to-back Territorial Cup games since 2008-09.

The game all but exorcised some demons, er, Devils from the recent past.

“To be able to come in, and the program was already kind of going downhill, and to see it basically at the bottom point, losing 70-7, and then losing to NAU, and to come from back to go 5-7 last year, and then winning nine games is special,” Wiley said of the team’s profession. “I want to say I believed it from the jump, but you know.”

So, Arizona is there. With one more game to be played.

“When Dave (Heeke) and Dr. (Bobby) Robbins interviewed me for the job, I didn’t say that I wanted to like just win five games or four games,” Fisch said. “I had high aspirations for what we were going to do here. If I didn’t think we could win nine games, I wouldn’t have moved my family here. That’s what we wanted to do. We wanted to win. And if our guys can continue to believe and trust the process and keep getting better, I think we (can’t) just do that one year, I think we can do it each year.”

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