The Duel in the Desert: Arizona and Arizona State Duke it Out for the Territorial Cup

Every Thanksgiving weekend, deep in the heart of the southwest United States, the University of Arizona and Arizona State University take the field and battle for the Territorial Cup.

This rivalry, between two schools separated by one hour and 45 minutes on Interstate 10, began all the way back in 1899, 13 years before Arizona became a state.

In 1899, ASU, then known as the Territorial Normal School at Tempe took the train down to Tucson, where they met up with and they played U of A at Carrillo Gardens Field. TNS, recognized as the Normals, took the first meeting between the two schools, 11-2. The victory gave the Normals the Territorial Championship Cup, the same trophy that the schools battle over to this day.

The Territorial Cup on display in Tempe, Ariz., sometime this past year. Photo courtesy of Nick Bastian on Flickr

The Territorial Cup on display in Tempe, Ariz., sometime this past year. Photo courtesy of Nick Bastian on Flickr

According to author Shane Dale’s book Territorial, The Territorial Cup was not originally created to go to the winner of the game between U of A and the Normals. It was created to go to the champion of the Arizona Foot Ball League, a league that included U of A, Territorial Normal, Phoenix College and Phoenix Indian School. Normal was presented the trophy because they had defeated all of the schools in the conference. Because of their victory, an inscription reading “Arizona Foot Ball League 1899 Normal” was engraved into the Cup. That is the only inscription on the Cup, as it disappeared very soon after that first game. Thus, the Cup will always belong to Arizona State, even though it has taken a few trips south during its lifetime.

The Normals would learn to savor that victory, as the Normals would only taste victory once more in the next 49 years.

The two schools did not meet again until 1902, and they would meet again in Tucson, but the home team would not let the Normals, whose school had become Tempe Normal School, escape with a victory. This time U of A came out on top 12-0, a victory that began a nine-game win streak that would last 28 years (1902-1930).

The teams then took a 12-year hiatus between meetings. When they did meet on the gridiron again, U of A appeared under the nickname “Wildcats” instead of what it had been called, Varsity. This name came from an article in the Los Angeles Times said that U of A had “showed the fight of wildcats” after a game against Occidental College. Soon after, the nickname became official, and it has stuck to this day.

The next meeting between the Wildcats and the Normals took place in 1914, and Arizona emerged victorious again, and this time, it wasn’t even close. The Wildcats won 34-0.

The two teams met again the next season, with the Wildcats emerging victorious, but it was much closer this time, U of A only won by a score of 7-0. Four years would pass before the next meeting.

In 1919, the teams met again, and it was one-sided once more. Arizona destroyed the Normals, 59-0. The teams would not meet again until 1925, and during the hiatus, in 1922, Tempe Normal had changed its name to the mascot from the Normals to the Bulldogs, and in 1925, changed the name of the school to Tempe State Teachers College. The mascot change did not mean victory for Tempe, and that game resulted in a 13-3 victory for the Wildcats. After the 1925 game, the rivalry became an annual game, with a few exceptions.

In 1926, as has been the theme, the Wildcats won, this time by a score of 35-0. They were inspired by starting quarterback John “Button” Salmon, who after being hit by a car, told head coach James “Pop” McKale, “Tell them… tell the team to bear down.” That has become the school’s unofficial motto and is displayed prominently down the middle of the field at Arizona Stadium today. There was not a game in 1927, and in 1928, Arizona won again, 39-0, the first game in Arizona Stadium. 1929’s game would see a 26-0 Wildcat win over the newly named Arizona State Teachers College, and 1930 would be U of A’s ninth straight win, but it was a very close game 6-0.

The series took it’s first trip up north to Tempe in 1931 and with it came new life for ASTC. The Bulldogs won their first game against the Wildcats in 28 years, 19-6. Arizona would not let this bother them, as they went on to win the next year, 20-6 back in Tucson, and that began an 11-game win streak.

In 1933, the game came back to Tempe, but ASTC would not see the effect that playing in Tempe had in 1931, and U of A won 26-7. 1934 saw a 32-6 Wildcat victory, 1935 was a 26-0 win for U of A, Arizona won 18-0 in ’36 in ASTC’s brand new Goodwin Stadium, 20-6 in ’37, and then the series took a four-year break.

ASTC and U of A resumed playing each other in 1941, and the Wildcats continued their dominance, winning 20-7 in Tempe. ’42 saw a 23-0 Wildcat victory and then there was another hiatus as both schools had many students fight for the Allies in World War II.

The series would resume after the War ended. During the War hiatus, in 1945, ASTC had changed its name to Arizona State College, and in November 1946, the Bulldogs would be no more. Arizona State College decided to change its mascot and a student vote decided that the new mascot would be the Sun Devils. After this was decided, Disney artist Berk Anthony designed the iconic Sparky logo, which has been rumored to be modeled after Walt Disney himself.

In 1946, Arizona absolutely embarrassed ASC, 67-0. ’47 saw a much closer game, with U of A winning 26-13, and the Wildcats would win their 11th straight, 33-21, in ’48.

ASC would get back on the winning track in ’49, beating U of A 34-7. That would be the first of four straight for the Sun Devils. In 1950, ASC would win 47-13, then in ’51, the Devils won 61-14, and in ’52 ASC emerged victorious, 20-18.

Arizona would take the next three (’53-’55) by scores of 35-0, 54-14, and 7-6.

’56-’59 would belong to ASC by scores of 20-0, 47-7, 47-0, and 15-9.

1958 was a very exciting year for ASC. 1958 would see the hiring of one of the greatest coaches in Arizona State history, Frank Kush, the beginning of play in Sun Devil Stadium, and ASC becoming recognized as a university, and it became Arizona State University.

The beginning of the 1960s belonged to the Wildcats, as they opened the decade with three straight wins over ASU, by scores of 35-7, 22-13, and 20-17. ASU took the 1963 meeting 35-6, and U of A took 1964’s battle, 30-6.

In 1965, the Sun Devils would emerge victorious, 14-6, the first of nine straight wins for ASU.

In ’66, ASU won 20-17, ’67 saw a 47-7 Sun Devil victory, in ’68, ASU won 30-7, then in ’69, the Sun Devils won 38-24, in ’70, the score was 10-6 in favor of ASU, ’71 was a 31-0 ASU victory, ’72 saw a 38-21 ASU win, and the Sun Devils won that ninth straight game in ’73, 55-19.

Arizona won 10-0 in 1974 before the Sun Devils went streaking again, winning four straight from 1975-78, by scores of 24-21, 27-10, 23-7, and 18-17.

U of A would grab another win in 1979, 27-24, ASU would then go on to win back to back games in 1980 and 1981, 44-7 and 24-13.

1982 would see the beginning of a time every Wildcat and Wildcat fan looks back on fondly, and every Sun Devil fan would like to forget. From 1982-1990, Arizona State did not win in nine straight years, during a time period known as “The Streak.”

The first two games in 1982 and ’83 saw U of A win 28-18 and 17-15. 1983 would also see the return of a precious relic.

Shortly after it was first presented in 1899, the Territorial Cup disappeared. No one knew what had happened to it until 1983, when it was discovered, according to Territorial, in a closet in the basement of the First Congregational Church of Tempe. After its discovery, the cup was put on display at Arizona State. 18 years later, in 2001, it would start being awarded to the winner of the ASU-U of A football game.

Arizona would win 16-10 in ’84, 16-13 in ’85, and 34-17 in ’86, a year that saw the Sun Devils go on to win the Rose Bowl, 22-15 over Michigan. The series saw its only tie happen in ’87, with a score of 24-24, and many people consider it a Wildcat victory, a la, Harvard-Yale in 1968, because of the improbable way that they Wildcats tied it. ASU was forced to punt with mere seconds left in the game from their own 38-yard-line. Sun Devil punter Mike Schuh fumbled the snap and U of A recovered with 13 seconds to go on the 13-yard-line, and the Wildcats kicked a field goal to end the game in a tie.

Arizona would then win 28-10 in ’89 and 21-17 in ’90, which would be the final year of “The Streak.” ASU ended the streak in 1991 by beating the Wildcats 37-14. The Sun Devils would win again the next year 7-6.

Arizona then won three straight from 1993-’95, 34-20, 28-27, and 31-28. ASU won 56-14 in 1996, before going on to lose to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, 20-17, and then U of A won back to back games, 28-16 and 50-42, in 1997 and 1998.

1999 and 2000 saw two Sun Devil victories, 42-27 and 30-17. Arizona won the initial game in which the Territorial Cup was presented as a traveling trophy, 34-21, in 2001. ASU won back-to-back games again in ’02 and ’03, 34-20 and 28-7.

Arizona State wide receive Mike Willie celebrates in front of Arizona safety Adam Hall after catching a touchdown pass from Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz., in 2010. Arizona State would go on to win the game 30-29 in double overtime. Photo courtesy of Scott Jones on Flickr.

Arizona State wide receive Mike Willie celebrates in front of Arizona safety Adam Hall after catching a touchdown pass from Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz., in 2010. Arizona State would go on to win the game 30-29 in double overtime. Photo courtesy of Scott Jones on Flickr.

Arizona upset No. 18 ASU in 2004, 34-27, but ASU would respond with three straight wins, 23-20, 28-14, and 20-17 (while the Sun Devils were ranked No. 13), from ’05-’07. ’08 and ’09 would see back to back Wildcat wins, 31-10 and 20-17. 2010 was a Sun Devil victory, 30-29 in double overtime, 2011 belonged to U of A, 31-27, and last year was a Sun Devil victory, 41-34, over No. 24 Arizona, thanks to a 14-point fourth quarter comeback.

This year’s Duel in the Desert is the largest in years. ASU is ranked No. 12, and will host the Pac-12 title game against No. 8 Stanford if they beat Arizona. Arizona is coming off of an upset over No. 5 Oregon. The game will be played Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013 and will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. MST on the Pac-12 Networks.

Due to it’s national importance this year, many fans will ask why this game is considered “forgotten.” In Territorial, the introduction is titled, “The Best Rivalry No One’s Heard Of.” Continually on television and on the radio, ASU is called Arizona and vice versa. ESPN cannot even get the teams’ match-ups straight. During week three of this season, ASU played Wisconsin, but on College Football Live, ESPN put an Arizona helmet with a Wisconsin helmet when previewing the game. The rivalry is obviously well-known in Arizona, but it seems that if the teams cannot even be kept separate, then it must not mean much nationwide.

Fans have their own reasons for why this rivalry is not known nationwide.

“(The Territorial Cup is not known nationwide) because neither team has been a major or consistent force in college football,” Greg Cravener, Arizona alumnus, class of 1983, said in an email. “They have both had glimmers of hope and short periods of greatness but neither has been able to show the consistency to garner other than regional interest. ASU had a good run under Frank Kush, but this was in the WAC days when very little interest was given to this conference. It takes years of being a force in a major conference to garner much national attention.”

“The rivalry does not get the national recognition of a Notre Dame-USC or an Ohio St.-Michigan simply because neither school is a traditional power house,” ASU sophomore Lucas Robbins said in an email. “The game has little significance outside the state of Arizona because most of the time neither team is very good. Between the two neither school has a national title nor a BCS berth. It’s the no-respect Arizona curse.”

The fact that the teams have not been nationally ranked in many of their games adds on to that, so many of the games have not meant as much, but, both teams are playing much better football as of late, so maybe they will mean more in the future. But, if it teams do happen to go back to being middle of the pack teams, hopefully this fantastic rivalry will not be forgotten.

Chop, chop, chop! Minnesota and Wisconsin Continue to Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe

In the northern midwest United States, within the confines of the Big Ten Conference, lies the Football Bowl Subdivision’s (FBS) oldest rivalry, and no, it is not Ohio State vs. Michigan.

The oldest rivalry in the FBS has taken place each and every year, except one, since 1890 between the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers and the University of Wisconsin Badgers.

When the Badgers and Gophers first met on the gridiron, it was just another game. Wisconsin was in their second year of football and was coming off of an absolute drubbing of Whitewater Normal School, which is now called the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and currently plays football in Division III, 106-0. That win still stands as the most lopsided victory in Wisconsin history. Minnesota began playing football in 1882, took a two-year break from 1884-1885, and was on their sixth head coach in five years of football (the Gophers had four different head coaches in 1889).

Minnesota took the trip southeast to Madison, Wis., to take on the Badgers, and it did not go well for the home team. The Gophers topped the Badgers 63-0 in the most lopsided game in rivalry history, and the only game where one of the teams eclipsed the 60-point barrier.

The two schools decided to make this an annual meeting, and it has stayed that way to this day. The teams did decide to not play each other in 1906, but that is the only time that has happened.

The series continued the next year in Minneapolis, and the Gophers came out on top once again, albeit much closer this time around, 26-12.

The Badgers would earn their first victory in the series in 1892, as they beat Minnesota 40-32 in Madison. The teams would then trade wins for the next three seasons, with Minnesota winning two of them.

In 1896, both teams entered into the Western Conference, the first precursor to what is the Big Ten Conference today. They were joined by the University of Chicago, University of Illinois, Northwestern University, Purdue University and the University of Michigan. Entering into the conference ensured that the teams would meet on an annual basis.

The first conference game between the two schools ended in a 6-0 Wisconsin win, which would be the first of four straight for the Badgers.

In 1899, the Western Conference changed its name to the Big Nine Conference, as the University of Iowa and the University of Indiana joined.

The Paul Bunyan Axe is the trophy given out to the winner of the Wisconsin-Minnesota football game. The original axe was retired after the 2003 game. The handle of the axe is six feet long and players of the winning team act like they are chopping down the goal posts after they secure the trophy. Photo courtesy of Josh May on Flickr.

The Paul Bunyan Axe is the trophy given out to the winner of the Wisconsin-Minnesota football game. The original axe was retired after the 2003 game. The handle of the axe is six feet long and players of the winning team act like they are chopping down the goal posts after they secure the trophy. Photo courtesy of Josh May on Flickr.

Wisconsin’s streak would end in 1900, as the Gophers won a very close game 6-5. Wisconsin would add another win the following season, but Minnesota would then go on to win the next three, from 1902-1904.

Wisconsin would win 16-12 in 1905 before the series would take a one-year hiatus in 1906, the only time the two schools have not met on the football field since 1890.

When the two schools played again in 1907, the conference had shrunk down to eight teams (Michigan had been voted out for failing to adhere to league policy), and the first tie between the two schools occurred. Wisconsin and Minnesota would end up tying 17-17 that year.

Luckily, that would not become a trend as Wisconsin won in 1908, and Minnesota won back-to-back game in 1909 and 1910. The tie would rear its head again, however.

In 1911, the two schools tied 6-6. That would be the last tie for 11 years, during which time Wisconsin would win five games and Minnesota, six. The conference would also gain two more members, and go by the name Big Ten Conference for the first time as Ohio State University joined in 1912, and Michigan re-joined in 1917.

The next three years would see three ties. In 1923, the teams tied 0-0, followed by a 7-7 tie in 1924 and a 12-12 tie in 1925. Minnesota got tired of the ties after this, and decided to go on a bit of a run.

Over the next 24 years, from 1926-1949, Minnesota would win 20 games, including a span of nine straight wins from 1933-1941. This time period would not only see complete dominance by Minnesota in the rivalry, they would also win five national championships (1934-1936, 1940-1941). It was also during this time that a trophy was first given to the winner of the Minnesota vs. Wisconsin game.

Beginning in 1930, and lasting until 1943 when Minnesota head coach George Hauser refused to accept the trophy and it was taken back to Wisconsin and subsequently misplaced, the winner of the game was given the “Slab of Bacon.” The Slab of Bacon is a chunk of black walnut that has a football in the middle with an emblem on top that is a W or a M, depending on which side it is hung from. It also has the word “Bacon” carved on either side, with the significance that the winner of the game will have brought home the bacon.

The Slab of Bacon, the former trophy given to the victor of the Wisconsin-Minnesota football game, after being lost for over 50 years, was found in a storage closet at Camp Randall Stadium. It now displayed at the Camp Randall Stadium Football Offices. Photo courtesy of user Gopherbone on Wikimedia Commons.

The Slab of Bacon, the former trophy given to the victor of the Wisconsin-Minnesota football game, after being lost for over 50 years, was found in a storage closet at Camp Randall Stadium. It now displayed at the Camp Randall Stadium Football Offices. Photo courtesy of user Gopherbone on Wikimedia Commons.

Minnesota won the Slab of Bacon 11 times during its 14-year tenure. After the disappearance of the trophy, neither team was awarded anything for winning until 1948, when the Paul Bunyan Axe was created and given to the victor.

The trophy-less years (1944-1947) saw three Minnesota victories and a single victory for the Badgers. The Big Ten would also go back to being the Big Nine as the University of Chicago left the conference. The Gophers would then go on to win the Axe, which was created by the National W Club (the Wisconsin letter winners Association) for the first two years of its existence.

1949 was the Gophers’ final win for six years, as they defeated Wisconsin 14-6. The Big Nine also re-became the Big Ten as Michigan State University joined. The conference would retain the same ten members until 1990.

The 1950’s would see Wisconsin begin to show some dominance as the Badgers won six of the ten games in the decade. Minnesota would only win once during this time, and there were three ties (’52, ’53, ’56). The 1956 game would be the last tie the series has seen.

The series went 6-4 in favor of the Golden Gophers in the 1960s, and 5-5 in the 1970s. The last two years of the ’70s saw the Badgers begin a six-game winning streak that would last until 1983. Minnesota responded with a four-game winning streak of their own, and the series would then see Wisconsin win 9 of 13 between 1988 and 2000, a time period that also saw the Big Ten add their 11th team, Penn State.

The 21st century has not been nice to the Gophers, as they have only won twice in the last 12 years (2001, ’03). Currently the Badgers are on a nine-game winning streak that began in 2004 and has equaled Minnesota’s longest winning streak in the series (1933-1941). The Big Ten has also added a 12th team, Nebraska, and has plans to expand to 14 teams next season, when Rutgers and Maryland join the conference.

Not only is the Minnesota vs. Wisconsin game the oldest rivalry in the FBS, it is a rivalry that has been vital in the history of the Big Ten Conference. Both teams are charter members and their rivalry has kept the conference exciting for years. Sadly, due to the recent decline in the Minnesota football program, this rivalry has gone to the back of many fan’s minds. But, with Minnesota on the rise and Wisconsin having been to three straight Rose Bowls, hopefully this rivalry can regain some of its lost notoriety and won’t be forgotten.

(Both teams are also currently ranked (Minnesota [8-2, 4-2 Big Ten] is No. 25 in the BCS rankings and Wisconsin [8-2, 5-1 Big Ten] is No. 19) and will battle for the Paul Bunyan Axe on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The game will kickoff at 3:30 p.m. EST and will be broadcast on ESPN.)

The Crusades live on, Utah and BYU face off in the Holy War

In this vlog, I talk about the Holy War, what it is and why it is great, between the University of Utah Utes and the Brigham Young University Cougars.

The video of Max Hall saying that he hates Utah can be found here. The video of Utah fans prematurely rushing the field (only twice, not three times like I said in the video) can be found here.

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The Border Showdown: the Kansas Jayhawks vs. the Missouri Tigers

In all of the Midwest region of the United States, there may not have been a more intense rivalry than the one between the University of Kansas Jayhawks and the University of Missouri Tigers.

The rivalry between the schools that stand two-and-a-half hours apart on Interstate 70 in Lawrence, Kan., and Colombia, Mo., began in an unconventional way, far away from the football fields and basketball courts that made it famous.

“It (The Border Showdown) actually has historically significant roots that go all the way back to the Civil War, when militias from the two states fought each other and raided towns in both states,” Will Heckman-Mark, a senior at the University of Missouri, said.

Although never meeting on the battlefield, the militias, which were aptly named the Jayhawkers and the Tigers, were fighting over whether or not to let a state decide if it would become a slave or free state, a concept known as “popular sovereignty.”

The animosity began in 1854 when the Kansas-Nebraska Act was signed and created the Kansas and Nebraska territories and the concept of popular sovereignty. This angered the people of Missouri, who believed that the decision of whether or not a state would allow slavery was better left to the Missouri Compromise, which was signed into law in 1820, and repealed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

The animosity between the state of Missouri and the Kansas Territory led to bloodshed during the time known as “Bleeding Kansas,” right before the Civil War, when the pro-slavery Missourians journeyed into Kansas and killed around 40 people and injured many others.

When the Civil War began, the Jayhawkers struck back, ransacking six towns in Missouri, including Osceola, and plundering and razing large parts of western Missouri.

The animosity between the two states never ceased and 30 years after the Civil War began, on Halloween in 1891, the University of Kansas and the University of Missouri met for the first time on the gridiron in what would come to be known as the Border Showdown.

For 16 years, the Tigers and Jayhawks only expressed their contempt for each other when they would meet on the football field. But, in 1907, the schools’ men’s basketball teams met for the first time on the hardwood, where it has shined.

There have been many times when the hate that these two schools have for each other has boiled over.

There’s the Brawl at Brewer Fieldhouse, Missouri head basketball coach Norm Stewart having his players stay in hotels in the Missouri side of Kansas City and refusing to let them spend money on the Kansas side, Kansas head football coach Dom Fambrough saying “I’ll die first!” when talking about a physician from Missouri, and so many more.

In terms of the actual play between the two schools, Missouri has a slight edge in football (57-54-9) and Kansas has absolutely dominated in men’s basketball (172-95).

Kansas center Jeff Withey jumps for the ball against Missouri forward Ricardo Ratliffe at the beginning of the game between the #8 Jayhawks and #4 Tigers at Missouri's Mizzou Arena in Colombia, Mo., on Feb. 4, 2012. Missouri beat Kansas 74-71. Photo courtesy of Taylor Bennett on Flickr.

Kansas center Jeff Withey jumps for the ball against Missouri forward Ricardo Ratliffe at the beginning of the game between the #8 Jayhawks and #4 Tigers at Missouri’s Mizzou Arena in Colombia, Mo., on Feb. 4, 2012. Missouri beat Kansas 74-71. Photo courtesy of Taylor Bennett on Flickr.

In 2011, the series met its end when Missouri announced it was leaving the Big 12 Conference, the conference that, along with its predecessors, Kansas and Missouri had always both occupied, for the Southeastern Conference starting in the fall of 2012.

That doesn’t mean that the hate for either school has ceased.

“I don’t like Missouri and I never will root for them but rather, cheer against them even when they’re in the SEC now,” Brad Robson, a senior at the University of Kansas said. “We (the Kansas student body) felt like they were doing a disservice to not only the Big 12, but to both states. It was a selfish move that they made because of the money.”

The hate hasn’t relented in Colombia either.

“I don’t really follow KU sports too closely except for their basketball team, who I continue to actively root against,” Heckman-Mark said. “I still hate (Kansas head men’s basketball coach) Bill Self and absolutely love when that team loses. I know a lot of my friends and classmates feel the same way here, and I’m sure the people over in Lawrence don’t like us very much still either.”

The hate from both sides is still palpable, but a return to play between the two universities does not seem to be on the horizon anytime soon.

“I believe that the series may resume someday,” Robson said. “But the game won’t mean anything since we’re in different conferences.”

Fans should hope that one day soon the two schools can come to an agreement and this once intense rivalry that dates back to the Civil War will never be forgotten.

Tell me what you think about the rivalry and if you think it should come back in the comments below!

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