For the first time in five years, the annual Territorial Cup football game between ASU and UA will be daytime on TV.
On Thursday, it was announced that the 2014 Duel in the Desert will begin at 1:30 p.m. Arizona time on Friday, Nov. 28 (the day after Thanksgiving) at Arizona Stadium in Tucson.
In the last decade, three ASU-UA football games have been played during the day, and each had plenty of drama. All three were decided by seven points or less, and the last two have been determined on a last-second field goal.
Here’s a rundown of the previous three Duels in the Desert that took place while the sun was shining:
Nov. 26, 2004: UA 34, No. 18 ASU 27 (Tucson)
The setup: First-year UA head coach Mike Stoops, whose Wildcats entered the game with a 2-8 record, was looking for his first signature win in Tucson. He used a pregame quote from ASU head coach Dirk Koetter – in which Koetter suggested that ASU’s superior talent would overcome UA – to rally his team.
The breakdown: UA stunned the 8-2 Sun Devils by forcing five turnovers, and quarterback Richard Kovalcheck threw for three touchdowns – two to wide receiver Mike Jefferson – to give the Cats a 34-20 lead with less than 10 minutes to play.
The key play: Halfway through the fourth quarter, ASU quarterback Andrew Walter left the game with a shoulder injury. His replacement, Sam Keller, threw a TD pass to wide receiver Jamaal Lewis with five minutes left. But on fourth down with less than two minutes remaining, receiver Matt Miller dropped a pass from Keller deep in UA territory that sealed the Wildcats’ upset win.
The quotes: “It was very exciting for us, and we took a big team picture out in front of the scoreboard after the game. It was the beginning of the rebuilding process for us.” –Stoops
“Don’t get me wrong – Sam Keller came in and played phenomenal. He really did. But if Andrew had stayed in that game, without a doubt, I thought we could’ve won that game.” –ASU safety Riccardo Stewart
Nov. 25, 2005: ASU 23, UA 20 (Tempe)
The setup: ASU was just 5-5 and UA just 3-7, but both teams had won two of their previous three games heading into their matchup. Both teams were led by freshman quarterbacks who would go on to be four-year starters: Rudy Carpenter (ASU) and Willie Tuitama (UA).
The breakdown: The Cats jumped out to a 20-5 lead thanks in part to a 100-yard rushing performance from tailback Mike Bell. But the Devils trimmed the lead to 20-12 early in the second half, and just like Walter a season earlier, a shoulder injury knocked Tuitama out of the game in the fourth quarter.
The key play: With just under eight minutes remaining, ASU WR Terry Richardson took a UA punt and returned it 71 yards for a touchdown. The subsequent two-point conversion from Carpenter to current Seattle Seahawks’ tight end Zach Miller tied the game at 20-20, setting the stage for a last-second 20-yard field goal from ASU’s Jesse Ainsworth that completed the Devils’ comeback.
The quotes: “You just know that you’re eventually going to have the opportunity to take the game away, so we eventually turned it around and we got a big play. And I think we saw a different team in the second half vs. the first half.” –ASU safety Zach Catanese
“Even with such a bad season to start, that would’ve been a huge win for us, just to be able to end strong, especially in a big game like that against your rival… But sometimes that’s just the way it goes.” –Tuitama
Nov. 28, 2009: UA 20, ASU 17 (Tucson)
The setup: With wins in their final two games – against ASU and the following week against USC – the 6-4 Wildcats would earn a second-place finish in the Pac-10. The Sun Devils opened the season with a 4-2 record but lost five straight heading into the Territorial Cup game, eliminating themselves from bowl contention.
The breakdown: UA took a 14-0 lead into halftime thanks to a 67-yard touchdown run by tailback Keola Antolin and a blocked punt returned for a TD by defensive back Orlando Vargas. But the Devils rallied in the fourth quarter thanks to a pair of touchdown tosses from senior QB Danny Sullivan to WR Kyle Williams, whose second TD grab tied the game at 17-17 with two minutes to play.
The key play: ASU forced a UA punt with under two minutes remaining, and Williams was set to receive the punt. But after calling for a fair catch, the ball went off Williams’ fingertips and then off his foot, and right into the arms of UA cornerback Mike Turner deep in ASU territory. The Wildcats ran the clock down and set up a game-winning 32-yard field goal by Alex Zendejas as time expired to give Stoops his first and only win at Sun Devil Stadium.
The quotes: “You don’t put as much thought into it as people would think, I guess. From there, it was all just in my head: ‘I’m going to make it.’
I had the confidence.” –Zendejas
“To be totally honest with you, there’s still not a word that I can find that can describe the feeling at that moment. It was like, ‘That didn’t just happen. There’s no way.’ And I always go back to it, and I think, ‘What if I’d made a different decision?’” –Williams
(All quotes are excerpts from Territorial: The History of the Duel in the Desert )