December 3, 2008

Territorial Cup has extra significance this year

With every passing day, the Arizona State football team is getting more and more excited.

The Sun Devils have a chance to go two-for-one Saturday, and can't wait for the opportunity.

A win over the University of Arizona would allow ASU to accomplish two of its season goals at once: win the Territorial Cup and become bowl eligible.

While achieving one automatically means they achieve the other, the players know which goal means more to them.

"Winning this game (is more important)," wide receiver Chris McGaha said. "If we win this game it takes care of everything. So we're just focused on winning.

"It's an intense game. We want to be the best team in Arizona so we want to come out on top when we play them. We have the last couple of year while I've been here so we want to keep that tradition going."

Tight end Andrew Pettes said this game means more to him than ever for several reasons.

For one, this is the first time Pettes will be a major factor in the game. Also, as a senior, this will be the final time that he is a part of the Territorial Cup.

But the fact that ASU could clinch a bowl berth with a win is what Pettes is most excited about.

"We've beat them (three) years in a row. They don't like that at all," he said. "They really want to spoil our season by not letting us go to a bowl game.

"That makes us more ready. We're more pumped up to go down there and try to beat them in their own house."

And for local players like Pettes, McGaha and linebacker Mike Nixon who grew up watching the ASU/UA game, this rivalry is something they feel honored to be a part of.

There is a little extra something on the line for those guys.

"I grew up an Arizona State fan with a ton of family and friends that went to Arizona," Nixon said, "so there are bragging rights on the line and we want to keep them."

However, Pettes said some of the out-of-state players who are yet to experience the game don't truly know what it means yet.

"Before you have a chance to play against them, you don't really understand all the emotions that go into it," he said.

But Nixon added that it only takes game against UA before the out-of-state guys catch on to how much this game means.

"If you don't catch on quick the second you step in that stadium they will," he said. "The fans, honestly, are passionate and they have a dislike for us and ours theirs. You get into it quickly."

While much is made about the fact that quarterback Rudy Carpenter is 3-0 against the Wildcats, every member of the ASU football team is also undefeated against UA.

They like it that way and don't want anything to change.

"That would be great," McGaha said of the possibility of going 3-0 against the Wildcats. "It's always good to win and if we win against them it's even better.

"I've never lost to UA and I don't want to start that now."

Safety shuffle

On Tuesday, safety Jarrell Holman was working alongside Troy Nolan with the first team. The second unit was made up of Rodney Cox and Clint Floyd.

Smart Sun Devils

Four ASU football players were named to the Pac-10 All-Academic teams.

Linebacker Mike Nixon made the first team while linebackers Colin Parker and Anthony Reyes and kicker Thomas Weber made the second team.

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