Wildcats Host Sun Devils for 94th Territorial Cup
TUCSON, Ariz. — The Arizona Wildcats (0-4, 0-4 Pac-12) and Arizona State Sun Devils (0-2, 0-2 Pac-12) will face off in the 94th Territorial Cup this Friday, Dec. 11 at Arizona Stadium. The in-state rivalry matchup is slated to kick off at 5:00 p.m. MST with a television broadcast on ESPN.
The Territorial Cup is recognized by the NCAA as the nation's oldest rivalry trophy game. Both the Wildcats and Sun Devils enter Friday's matchup looking for their first win of the COVID-19 shortened season.
Arizona looks to ride their consistently improving pass defense and stable of productive running backs to take their first win from Arizona State since 2016.
A complete game preview is below.
ARIZONA NOTES & NUMBERS
- The Wildcats will host the Sun Devils for the 94th edition of the Territorial Cup on Friday. The NCAA recognizes the Territorial Cup game as the nation's oldest rivalry trophy game as the series dates back to 1899.
- Arizona holds an all-time mark of 49-43-1 against their in-state rivals. The Wildcats are 31-20 in the series in games played in Tucson but only have three victories in the last ten meetings with the last win coming in 2016.
- The Arizona offense is coming off a 258-yard performance on the ground in the loss to Colorado as running backs Gary Brightwell and Michael Wiley each eclipsed 100 yards rushing. The Brightwell-Wiley performance marked the third time during the Kevin Sumlin era that the Wildcats have had a pair of running backs each gain over 100 rushing yards in a game.
- Senior linebacker Anthony Pandy turned in a career performance versus the Buffaloes on Saturday with eight tackles, a half-a-tackle for loss and a pair of interceptions. Pandy had one career interception going into that game and became the first player in the Pac-12 this season to intercept two passes in the same game.
- With 126 rushing yards in Saturday's showdown with Colorado, sophomore Michael Wiley capped a career night in a variety of ways. Wiley broke his previous single game career high of 39 yards by the end of the first quarter. The Houston native would set and reset the longest rush of his career in back-to-back plays in the quarter with gains of 29 and 45 yards.
- Arizona has scored a total of 54 points in its two Territorial Cup match-ups under Kevin Sumlin with the Wildcats averaging 196.5 rushing and 255.0 passing yards in those games.
- Sophomore wideout Jamarye Joiner will look to follow up his standout performance against Arizona State in the 2019 season finale when the Tucson native caught seven passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns. All three of those marks against the Sun Devils remain his career highs.
92 — The Wildcats' defense allowed Colorado just 92 passing yards on 20 pass attempts, marking the first time since 2015 that Arizona has allowed fewer than 100 yards passing in a game.
17 — The Wildcats have notched 17 offensive plays that gained 20 or more yards in four games this season. The Wildcats also amassed 17 explosive plays in their first four Pac-12 games last season.
28 — Junior offensive lineman Donovan Laie has started in 28 consecutive games entering Friday's game versus ASU. His impressive run is tied for the ninth longest starting streak by an OL since Arizona began tracking starts in 1993.
39 — Arizona defensive back Lorenzo Burns has logged 39 career starts entering Friday's game, which ranks second among all active Pac-12 players behind Oregon's Jordon Scott and his 41 career starts.
12,003 — The Wildcats have rushed for 12,003 yards since 2016, the best mark in the Pac-12 Conference. Arizona has led the conference in rushing three times over that stretch, and are one of just two teams (also: Oregon) with a rushing total north of 11,000 in the last four-plus years.
SOME GAME THEMES:
- The 94th edition of the Territorial Cup is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 11, which is the first time the game has been played on a Friday since 2016. It is also the latest the game has been played in the calendar year in the cup's all-time history after being played four times in the first week of December in the previous 93 meetings.
- Arizona will look to snap its 11-game losing streak on Friday amid game-by-game improvement in its pass defense. The Wildcats' defense has reduced its passing yards allowed in each of its four games this season; USC (325), Washington (239), UCLA (129) and Colorado (92).
- Junior offensive lineman Donovan Laie has started every game for the Wildcats since stepping foot on campus as a freshman in 2018. Laie enters Friday's game with Arizona State having started in 28 consecutive games for the Wildcats. Only eight Arizona offensive lineman have started in 30 or more consecutive games since Arizona began tracking game-by-game starters in 1993.
- True freshman quarterback Will Plummer made his first collegiate start in Arizona's last game versus Colorado after making his first career appearance the week before in relief after Grant Gunnell's injury on the first play from scrimmage. Plummer completed 19-of-32 passes for 159 yards and one interception that was deflected against Colorado. He also rushed for a total of 29 yards.
- Senior kicker Lucas Havrisik connected on field goals of 38 and 42 yards against Colorado without a miss. He has now successfully converted six consecutive field goal attempts, the longest streak of his career (previous: 4, twice).
- Wildcat kicker Lucas Havrisik has shown his powerful leg on kickoffs. He has neutralized opposing return units this season as only one of his 19 kickoffs has been returned.
VERSUS ARIZONA STATE:
- The Wildcats hold an all-time edge of 31-20 when the Territorial Cup is played in Tucson, with a 24-19 record against ASU inside Arizona Stadium. Arizona has won two of the last three Territorial Cup matchups held in Tucson.
- Eight of the last 15 Territorial Cup games have been decided by one possession.
- Of Arizona's 30 players on its roster from the state of Arizona, 20 of them hail from the Phoenix metropolitan area.
- Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Jamarye Joiner posted a career night in the 2019 Territorial Cup. The converted quarterback capped off his first season at WR by pulling in seven receptions for 140 yards and two touchdowns. All three marks still stand as career bests for Joiner.
THE 94th TERRITORIAL CUP: The Territorial Championship Cup was first presented to Tempe Normal School after its 11-2 victory over Arizona at Tucson's Carrillo Gardens field downtown on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 30, 1899. That makes it the oldest rivalry trophy game in America (Comparisons: Michigan-Minnesota/Little Brown Jug/1909; Indiana-Purdue/Old Oaken Bucket/1925). Carrillo Gardens was in a downtown park on a side street south of the current Tucson Convention Center in the Barrio Historico district. The Cup has been registered with the NCAA and thereby sanctions the game as the oldest trophy game. Early origins of the piece are unclear but the cup itself is silver-plated over base metal and was manufactured by Reed and Barton of Taunton, Mass., according to some reports, which also indicate a catalog price of $20. The lone inscription reads: "Arizona Foot Ball League 1899 Normal." The Cup's whereabouts for the next eight decades also remains unclear until its discovery among items found in the basement of a church near ASU in the early 1980s and then displayed in various ASU collections. In 2001, then ASU President Lattie Coor led the move to have it again presented to the game winner. Over the years the Governor's Trophy (1953-1979) and a "Victory" sculpture by artist Ben Goo (1979-1997) were presented to the game's winner. The Saguaro Trophy, a bronze piece commissioned from artist Dora Perry in 1998, also has been in the mix, and now goes to the winning coach each year. The Bob Moran Most Outstanding Player in the game, named in 2008 after the late sportswriter who covered both teams, earns the Ben Goo sculpture for his school's hall of fame. The Cup on the sideline at the game itself is a replica, with the original piece requiring curator treatment for its hall of fame type display. The games themselves are not atypical of a state where the Territorial Legislature awarded one city (Phoenix) the initial economic prize, the state hospital, while the other town (Tucson) got the fledgling first state university. The games are competitive, territorial and a distinct matter of pride.
CHARTING THE CATS (CAREER):
- Redshirt senior defensive back Lorenzo Burns has notched nine career interceptions in four seasons, putting him just three picks shy of breaking into the Wildcats all-time top 10 leaderboard.
- Burns is also on the verge of cracking into Arizona's career top 10 in pass breakups. Through four years he has picked up 26 PBU, just two shy of tying Trevin Wade (2008-11) and Randy Robbins (1980-83) for 10th all-time.
GRANT LAND: Sophomore quarterback Grant Gunnell entered the 2020 season as the Wildcats clear-cut No. 1 signal caller after splitting time during his freshman campaign with Khalil Tate. Gunnell's collegiate debut came in blowout duty against Northern Arizona in week two of 2019; he threw for 151 yards and three touchdowns on 9-for-11 passing. His first career start came in game four, the Wildcat's Pac-12 opener against UCLA – in the game, Gunnell completed 29-of-44 pass attempts for 352 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions while leading Arizona to a 20-17 victory. His effort against UCLA earned him Pac-12 Freshman Player of the Week honors. He also saw playing time against Washington, at USC, at Stanford, against Oregon State, at Oregon, and against Utah. When it was all said and done, Gunnell threw for 1,239 yards, nine touchdowns, and suffered just one interception on 101-of-155 passing in his freshman campaign. His 65.2% completion percentage ranks fourth all-time in Arizona program history with a minimum of 100 attempts and was the best ever effort by a freshman passer. Prior to the season, Gunnell was selected as one of five Arizona captains – he is the only underclassmen among the five captains.
Grant Gunnell 200+ Yard Passing Performances
FAB FIVE: Grant Gunnell built a prodigious opening to his career through his first five starts with the Wildcats. Across his first five starts behind center, Gunnell went gone 98-for-149 passing for 1,075 yards and seven touchdowns with just one interception. His 1,075 yards are the most by an Arizona QB through their first five starts since Anu Solomon opened his career with 1,741 yards through the air. Even more impressive is Gunnell's sparkling 65.8% completion percentage, which stands as the best mark by a Wildcat passer in their first five starts since Nick Foles posted a mark of 72.3%. Gunnell has tallied 200+ yards three times in five starts and passed the 200-yard mark in two of his three starts this season.
Recent Arizona QBs Through First Five Career Starts
|Grant Gunnell (2019-current)||98-149||65.8||1075||7||1|
|Khalil Tate (2016-19)||50-94||53.2||793||7||5|
|Brandon Dawkins (2015-17)||69-118||58.5||941||5||3|
|Anu Solomon (2014-16)||131-206||63.6||1741||14||2|
|B.J. Denker (2012-13)||57-104||54.8||581||4||2|
|Matt Scott (2008-12)||79-122||64.8||954||4||4|
|Nick Foles (2009-11)||138-191||72.3||1436||10||5|
|Willie Tuitama (2005-08)||83-147||56.5||1109||8||5|
IN A RUSH: Despite doing much of their damage through the air recently, Arizona's rushing attack still remains dangerous. The Wildcats finished the 2019 season third in the Pac-12 with an average of 174.0 yards per game on the ground. Prior to that, the Wildcats had strung together four consecutive years of averaging north of 200 yards per game rushing. Arizona's ability to run the ball often ties to the success of the team. Over the past five seasons, when the Wildcats have rushed for 200 or more yards, the team has posted a record of 26-12. In games where Arizona hasn't reached the 150-yard mark as a team, they are 6-20. The Wildcats have led the Pac-12 rushing scene since the start of the 2016 season and are one of only two programs to top 11,000 yards in that span (also: Oregon).
Total Rush Yards by Pac-12 Schools (2016-current)
I'M MR. BRIGHTWELL: After two years of serving the Wildcats as an effective backup running back, senior Gary Brightwell finally gets his time in the spotlight as Arizona's primary tailback in 2020. He opened the year with a 112-yard performance against No. 20 USC, giving him four career 100-yard rushing performances and putting him over the 1,000-yard career mark. He added another 100-yard game against Colorado last weekend, going for 113 yards on 20 totes with one touchdown. He has also added pass catching to his repertoire in 2020, pulling in 10 receptions for 39 yards during the Wildcats first four games after logging just six catches for 59 yards in his first three seasons. During his time in Tucson, Brightwell has always been productive, averaging 5.5 yards per carry and 32.1 yards per game. His five touchdowns in 2019 were a career high after scoring three times during his sophomore years in 2018. Brightwell's biggest career game to date on the ground came against Northern Arizona last season, as he rushed for 141 yards on just five carries. Included in his NAU onslaught was a 94-yard rushing touchdown, the longest of his career and tied for the second-longest rush in school history (also: Nic Grigsby, 2009, NAU). The next week against Texas Tech, Brightwell posted his first career multi-score game after going for 85 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. He also scored twice against Oregon State, with one of his touchdowns coming through the air for his first career receiving touchdown.
Gary Brightwell 100-yard performances
|09/22/18||at Oregon State||113||8.7|
INSTANT IMPACT: Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Jamarye Joiner impressed for the Wildcats in 2019, ultimately leading the receiver corp with 552 yards and five touchdowns through the air in his first go-around at the position. The Tucson native and Cienega High School product joined the Wildcats in 2018 as a quarterback and made the transition to wide receiver during Arizona's 2019 fall camp. In his first collegiate action at wideout against Hawai'i in week one of 2019, Joiner pulled in four receptions for 72 yards and his first career receiving touchdown. His best outing of last year came at Arizona State in the Territorial Cup, in which he pulled in career highs in receptions (7), yards (140), and touchdowns (2). His 140 yards against the Sun Devils were the most by an Arizona receiver since Cayleb Jones had 182 versus New Mexico in 2015. Joiner also reeled in touchdowns against Washington and Stanford last year. Joiner immediately impacted the Wildcats again in 2020, wasting no time and pulling in two receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown against USC in the season opener.
THE PANDY MAN CAN: Senior linebacker Anthony Pandy stepped into a leadership role for the Wildcats defense in 2020 after three years of steady improvement. He has served as Arizona's primary "Will" inside linebacker in first-year defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads' new base 3-4 scheme. During his three-plus-year career to date, Pandy has tallied 128 total tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, and three interceptions. The best season of his career came in 2019, his junior campaign, during which he collected 66 tackles, five tackles for loss, and two sacks while playing in all 12 games. Pandy's 66 tackles in 2019 are the most among all of Arizona's returning defensive players. The best tackling performance of his career came against Utah last season – in a home game against the Utes in 2019, Pandy notched a career-high 11 tackles.
ZO SAYS NO: Redshirt senior defensive back Lorenzo Burns is the Wildcats most experience secondary player, having seen time in 41 games with 39 starts since 2016. Last season he was named the Wildcats Team Defensive MVP and earned Pac-12 All-Conference Honorable Mention recognition after tallying 47 tackles, four interceptions, and seven pass breakups across 12 starts at cornerback. Burns' four interceptions led the team and were tied for the most by a single Pac-12 player. He currently boasts nine career interceptions, putting him three shy of breaking into the programs all-time top 10 leaderboard. Burns is also just two pass breakups short of breaking into the Arizona top 10.
Arizona Career Pass Breakups Leaderboard
|10.||Trevin Wade (CB)||28||2008-11|
|Randy Robbins (S)||28||1980-83|
|12.||Chris McAlister (CB)||27||1996-98|
|Kelvin Hunter (CB)||27||1996-99|
|14.||Lorenzo Burns (CB)||26||2016-current|
|James DeBow (S)||26||1985-88|
NEW ROLE, SAME JALEN: Redshirt junior linebacker Jalen Harris is making the transition from a "hand in the ground" pass rush specialist to full-time outside linebacker under Arizona's new defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads. He was the Wildcats leading returner in both tackles for loss (6.5) and sacks (4.0). During three-plus seasons and 31 games in the cardinal and navy, Harris has compiled 71 total tackles, 13.0 tackles for loss, 7.0 sacks, and one forced fumble. Harris played in all 12 of the Wildcats games in 2019 with eight starts on the defensive line and notched multiple tackles in seven different games. He began thriving instantly in his new role in 2020, posting career-best marks in tackles (6) and tackles for loss (2.0) in the Wildcats season opener against USC. He then passed his mark in tackles and reset his career high with seven stops on the road at UCLA.
WILDCATS IN THE NFL: Coming into week 13, the Wildcats are once again well represented in the National Football League with 12 former letterwinners active across the league. One of Arizona's most prestigious alums, tight end Rob Gronkowski, returned from retirement to rejoin his longtime quarterback Tom Brady with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Over nine season in New England, Gronkowski hauled in 7,861 yards and 81 touchdowns – he caught his first touchdown for the Bucs in week six and has since hauled in three more. Quarterback Nick Foles is in his ninth NFL season after rewriting the Wildcats record books during his time in Tucson. Now with the Chicago Bears, Foles has been the team's starting QB since week four. The most recent Wildcats to make the transition to the NFL are running back J.J. Taylor and defensive back Jace Whittaker. Taylor was a mainstay in the Arizona backfield from 2016-19 and has since taken his talents to New England. Whittaker finished his Arizona career ranked fourth-all time in pass breakups and was recently promoted to the Arizona Cardinals active roster. For a complete list of former Wildcats in the NFL, see the comprehensive chart below.
Current Wildcats on NFL Rosters
|Dane Cruikshank||S||Tennessee Titans (IR)|
|Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles||DB||San Francisco 49ers|
|Nick Foles||QB||Chicago Bears|
|Nick Folk||K||New England Patriots|
|Reggie Gilbert||LB||Jacksonville Jaguars|
|Rob Gronkowski||TE||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|P.J. Johnson||DL||Arizona Cardinals (practice squad)|
|Will Parks||S||Denver Broncos|
|Shawn Poindexter||WR||San Francisco 49ers (practice squad)|
|Brooks Reed||LB||Tennessee Titans (practice squad)|
|J.J. Taylor||RB||New England Patriots|
|Jace Whittaker||CB||Arizona Cardinals|