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December 8, 2008

(at UA 31, ASU 10)

Bright light city gonna set my soul, gonna set my soul on fire

A winning season, a winning league record, an upper division finish, and ending the losing streak against ASU. That’s enough to make any Wildcat soul combust.

Willie Tuitama did not become the first UA QB to go 0-4 against the Devils. Mike Stoops did not become the second Arizona coach to lose four straight to ASU. The only way to make up for a bad past is to start with a better present.

The big thing was we fought through the “one of those nights” feeling. Thanks to penalties, a turnover, and a unique punting strategy we outgained them 185-66 in the first half but trailed 10-7 on the scoreboard.

We more than made up for it by scoring touchdowns all three times we got possession of the ball in the third quarter. Twenty-one-point quarters aren’t quite as good as the 28-point variety, but they’re pretty dang good.

After His NateNess two dropped interceptions against OSU it was great to see our secondary catch the gift INT this week. Not only did Marquis Hundley secure Carpenter’s wounded Devil-duck but he ran it back up the sideline to set up a short field. That’s making a play within a play.

The UA offense pitched a shutout in the second half but that might not be saying much against the Sun Devil offense. This year Sparky puts the ‘imp’ in ‘impotent’.

Got a whole lot of money that’s ready to burn, so get those stakes up higher

I don’t have anything to go with that line so I give you an anecdote instead. I had to use an upper deck ticket to get into the game (long story) and I just had to laugh when I saw the following sign as I ascended the Gate 1 ramp: “Bats live in Arizona Stadium. If you see one, do not touch it.” You think ESPN worked that into their game promos?

Rivalry lives here.
The Cup lives here.
Bats live here.

Don’t look now but blue-on-blue is red hot. The midnight uniform combination is on a four-game winning streak with victories over WSU and Oregon last year and Washington and ASU this year. All-navy is now 4-3 overall under Stoops and has moved past red-on-blue as our second most successful home uniform combination (the “boring” blue-on-white combo is still 3-0).

Nic Grigsby became our first thousand-yard rusher in seven years. Mike Thomas’ 27th career touchdown (22 receiving, 3 rushing, 2 punt returns) moved him into a tie with Dennis Northcutt for 4th among all Arizona TD-makers. GRONK!’s tenth touchdown catch put him one away from tying the UA single season record for all receivers. And he’s only played in nine games! His 16 career TDs already put him tied for 7th on the school’s all-time list. And he’s only caught passes in 19 career games! I! like! GRONK!

There’s a thousand pretty women waitin’ out there
And they’re all livin’, the Devils can stare

Don’t worry, Coach Erickson. It’s not like Dirk Koetter was going to bowl games all the time. Oh wait…

The last two years the Cats have gotten our hopes up with a late-season winning streak only to lose our last game. This year they went with the "Get everyone all depressed before beating ASU" tactic. You're a sly one, Mr. Stoops.

And we beat the Devils with points to spare

That was our most lopsided victory over Those Guys since 1964. I’m afraid to mention that the last time we beat them by this much they won the next nine times, so I won’t.

But come on, two points short of tacos? It’s not really running up the score when you kick a field goal, is it?

There is good news, Sun Devil fans. It’s basketball season!

Our hoops team is 0-2 in games decided by two points or less and 5-0 in all other games. Is Mike Stoops coaching basketball too?


Oh, stop. Like you weren’t really, really, REALLY glad we had an 18-point lead going into the fourth quarter.

One of the great things about sports is you get moments like this that make you feel like a kid again. I’ve got a wife and children at home yet there I was on the field after the game milling about with giddy undergrads. I made a point to find Eben Britton and start the “One more year!” chant. I considered my night complete when I got to slap GRONK! on the shoulder pads. You don’t get to do that kind of stuff when you’re staring at a computer screen all day.

However, let’s not get swept away in the euphoria – and this is coming from a guy who just changed his mailing address to 3110 S. Euphoria Lane. A 7-6 season would still be disappointing with this team and this schedule. But losing to a top-20, 10-win BYU team wouldn’t be anything to be ashamed about. No, when we look back on this year the head-shaking will always be about New Mexico, Stanford and Oregon State.

That said, beating a quality BYU team would, at least for this Cat fan, serve as restitution for the third bad loss. The Cal win paid for one of them, decisively beating ASU cancels out one, leaving one more on the deficit side of the ledger.

So whattaya say we go ahead and beat the Cougars?

Viva Las Vegas! Viva Las Vegas!

A tip of the feathered cap to the band for having that song ready to go for after the final gun. Thank ya, thank ya very much.

It has been noted that the Territorial Cup series has been one of streaks. Behold:

1899-1948: 20-2 UA
1949-1981: 24-9 ASU
1982-1998: 13-3-1 UA
1999-2008: 3-7 ASU

Hold on, let me fix that last one:

1999-2007: 2-7 ASU
2008: 1-0 UA

Let the new streak begin.

Viva…Viva…Las Vegas!!!

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