Template:Infobox sports rivalry The Arizona–Arizona State football rivalry, sometimes known as the Duel in the Desert, is a college football rivalry between the University of Arizona Wildcats and the Arizona State University Sun Devils.

One of the longest football rivalries, the winner receives the Territorial Cup, created Template:Years or months ago for the 1899 champion between schools in Arizona and which the NCAA has certified as the oldest rivalry trophy in college football.[1] While the Territorial Cup did not change hands as a regular part of the competition until 2001, the rivalry between the two schools continued after 1899, a semi-regular event until becoming an annual event from 1946 onwards. It is part of the wider Arizona–Arizona State rivalry, which crosses 20 varsity intercollegiate sports.


The rivalry dates to 1899 in the Arizona Territory, when the University of Arizona in Tucson played the Normal School of Arizona in Tempe – which later evolved into Arizona State University[2] – as part of the Arizona Territorial Football League Championship. (Arizona achieved statehood in 1912.)

The championship was a four-way series that also included Phoenix Union High School and Phoenix Indian School. Arizona and the Normal School met on November 30, 1899 for a Thanksgiving Day match at Carrillo Gardens in Tucson.[3] Contemporary newspaper stories indicate that this was the first game for the University squad, while the Normal team was comparatively more experienced and better trained. The event drew 300 enthusiastic fans and was followed by a post-game Thanksgiving celebration for both teams hosted by the University. The "Normals", as they were called, won the game 11–2; as they had previously defeated the other schools, they were declared champions and received the Territorial Cup.[4]

The two teams played each other sporadically for the next decades, and have played almost every year beginning in 1925 (when Arizona State became a four-year college). The rivalry became particularly heated in the late 1950s amid the political contention over turning Arizona State College into an official university, a change opposed by the University of Arizona and many of its alumni. In 1958, the year the measure was to be put to a statewide vote, Arizona State defeated Arizona 47–0. The blowout win was a major point of pride for Arizona State, which became a university later that year.[5]

Another notably heated game came in 1968. The contest was expected to decide which team would go on to the Sun Bowl, but before the game, Arizona coach Darrell Mudra issued an ultimatum to the Sun Bowl committee that his team would not play in the bowl unless they were selected regardless of who won. The committee chose Arizona, who promptly lost to Arizona State 30–7 in what became known as the "Ultimatum Bowl"; Arizona proceeded to lose the 1968 Sun Bowl 34–10 to the Auburn Tigers. The events led to the creation of the Fiesta Bowl as a default bowl for Arizona State should they receive no other bids; it went on to become part of the highly lucrative Bowl Championship Series[5] and is now part of the College Football Playoff system.

In the modern era of the game, it has often been played on the day after Thanksgiving. It has most recently been scheduled for the Saturday after Thanksgiving to accommodate network television coverage. Starting with the 2009-2010 school year, State Farm became the presenting sponsor for the State Farm Territorial Cup Series. This series encompasses each of the 20 varsity intercollegiate sports that Arizona and Arizona State compete head to head in. Each sport is worth 1 point in the year-long competition. While no longer officially sponsored by State Farm, media outlets[6] and both universities[7][8] continue to track and promote the rivalry series.

Territorial CupEdit

In 1899, and continuously since 2001, each year's winner receives the Territorial Cup, a traveling trophy. The trophy was originally used in 1899 for the series that involved the teams' first ever meeting. As the Normal School won all three of its games, it was declared champion and awarded the trophy.[9] The cup's name refers to the fact that Arizona was a U.S. territory at the time; it became a state in 1912.

After the tournament the trophy's whereabouts were unknown until 1980 when it was rediscovered in the basement of a church adjacent to Arizona State's campus. The cup was put on display in the Alumni Association headquarters and then the University Archives.[10] It was later authenticated as the original cup by the NCAA, making it the oldest rivalry game trophy in college football.[1]

In 2000, Arizona contacted Arizona State about displaying the cup on their campus. The following year, then ASU President Lattie Coor ordered that the Territorial Cup be shared as a traveling trophy, to be displayed by each year's winner. Coor and then UA President Peter Likins signed a protocol governing the cup's use and care. Each year the tradition is celebrated at a pre-game reception for boosters. A replica version was also made and is the trophy presented to the winner after the game.[10][11]

The cup is silver plate over Britannia base metal and was manufactured by Reed and Barton of Taunton, Massachusetts. It was a standard style priced at $20 ($462.05 in 2010 dollars) in Reed and Barton's 1910 catalog. The inscription reads "Arizona Foot Ball League Championship 1899 Normal".[11]

Series historyEdit

Arizona leads the series 49–42–1, which includes a 20–2 start for Arizona from 1899 to 1948. Arizona State University was previously known as the Normal School of Arizona (1899–1901), Tempe Normal School (1901–25), Tempe State Teacher's College (1925–28), Arizona State Teacher's College (1928–45), and Arizona State College (1945–58).[2][12] Arizona State did not come under the control and patronage of the state's Board of Regents until 1945 and the teams did not play each other every year until 1946. Since the game became an annual affair, ASU leads the series 40-32-1.

Since becoming a university in 1958, ASU leads the series 33-26-1. Since both teams moved from the Western Athletic Conference to the Pac-10 Conference (now the Pac-12) in 1978, Arizona leads the series 21–19–1.

Both teams hired new coaches prior to the 2012 season. Under Coach Todd Graham, ASU posted a 4–2 record against Arizona under Coach Rich Rodriguez. Coach Graham and Coach Rodriguez were both fired following the 2017 season.

Starting in 2018, the rivalry matches ASU Head Coach Herm Edwards against Arizona Head Coach Kevin Sumlin. Coach Edwards got the better of Coach Sumlin in their inaugural game, with ASU mounting the biggest comeback in Territorial Cup history,[13] coming from 19 points behind in the 4th quarter for a 41–40 win in Tucson on November 24, 2018, in the latest installment of the Territorial Cup.

With its most recent victory, ASU extended a period of relative dominance over its rival, having now won 5 of the last 7 games against Arizona, and 13 of the last 20.

Game resultsEdit

Template:Sports rivalry series table


See also Edit


  1. 1.0 1.1 History of the Territorial Rivalry Trophy between Arizona and Arizona State. Yahoo News (October 29, 2010). Retrieved on 11 January 2012.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Tempe Normal School Records, 1885-1930 MSS-149. Arizona Archives Online (2014). Retrieved on May 27, 2014.
  3. A way-too-early, game-by-game look at Arizona's 2019 football season. Arizona Daily Star (4 December 2018).
  4. "History", Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Rappoport, Ken; Wilner, Barry (2007). Football Feuds: The Greatest College Football Rivalries. Globe Pequot. pp. 183–185. Template:Citation/identifier. Retrieved November 12, 2013. 
  9. [1],
  10. 10.0 10.1 Out of Bounds: History of the Territorial Cup.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Archived copy. Archived from the original on 2012-03-05. Retrieved on 2011-11-02.,
  12. The New ASU Story: Academic Programs. Arizona State University (2001). Retrieved on May 27, 2014.
  13. ASU's comeback stuns Wildcats. (November 24, 2018). Retrieved on November 26, 2018.

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