The longest running rivalry west of the Rockies returns this week, with the added twist of live and legal Arizona sports betting.
The Territorial Cup football game between Arizona and Arizona State has been played annually since 1946 and on a semi-regular basis since 1899. But Saturday's meeting is the first since sports betting became legal in the state in September.
The game has produced its fair share of highs and lows, including last year’s 70-7 shellacking by the Sun Devils in Tucson, which was the most points scored in the series’ 84-game history.
That drubbing led to the dismissal of Arizona Wildcats coach Kevin Sumlin, with former UCLA offensive coordinator and NFL vagabond Jedd Fisch assuming the head coaching role in Tucson.
Fast forward 348 days, and the Wildcats and Sun Devils meet in Tempe once again, with the visitors looking for redemption after last year’s romp.
They’ll have their shot at 2 p.m. Arizona time Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium on the Pac-12 Network.
ASU Heavy Favorites to Win on Saturday
The best sports betting apps Arizona has aren’t riding high on Fisch’s squad, which is understandable, given Arizona’s 1-10 record this season compared to ASU’s 7-4 mark.
For those looking to make a moneyline wager, BetMGM Arizona has ASU at -1100, while DraftKings Arizona has the Sun Devils at -1375 and FanDuel Sportsbook Arizona has them at -1500. Want to take a moneyline flyer on the Wildcats? You can get them at +700 at BetMGM Arizona.
All three sportsbooks have slight differences when it comes to Saturday’s over/under, with BetMGM Arizona listing it at 52.5 total points (-105), while DraftKings Arizona has it at 53 (-110), and FanDuel Sportsbook Arizona has it at 53.5 (-110).
Because of the rivalry and the holiday weekend, a spokesperson for BetMGM Arizona said they are expecting more action on Arizona-Arizona State than the schools get on a typical Saturday.
Adam Pullen, assistant director of trading at Caesars Sportsbook, also foresees a big weekend.
“Having sports wagering available throughout Arizona will definitely make this the most bet on Territorial Cup in history," Pullen said. "The spread indicates that this year’s game will be a foregone conclusion, but we’re certain the Wildcats will do their best to rebound from last year’s edition where they were manhandled by the Sun Devils in Tucson.”
Arizona Looking to Break Losing Streak to ASU
The Wildcats will be tasked with overcoming Herculean odds to snap the school’s four-game losing streak to their hated rivals.
Aside from last year’s 63-point drubbing, Arizona has come close in each of the previous three losses — falling by scores of 42-30 in 2017, 41-40 in 2018 and 24-14 in 2019.
The program’s last win in the series was in 2016, when the Wildcats routed ASU 56-35 without throwing a single pass in the second half.
The Sun Devils lead the all-time series 43-40-1. ASU is looking to extend its longest winning streak in the series since it won nine straight between 1965 and 1973.
The Wildcats already snapped one monumental losing streak this season when they beat Cal in Tucson 10-3 on Nov. 6. That victory ended the program’s 20-game losing streak, which was the longest in the nation at the time.
Although Arizona has struggled on the field, it has done much better against the college football betting spread this season. The Wildcats are 6-5 against the number and had covered in four straight games before last week’s 44-18 blowout loss to Washington State.
Arizona State is just 4-7 ATS this season and only 2-5 as a double-digit favorite.