Arizona State vs. Arizona: Keys to Victory for Both Teams in Territorial Cup
The Arizona State Sun Devils (6-5, 4-4) and Arizona Wildcats (7-4, 4-4) meet for the 86th time on Friday in the "Duel in the Desert," a game that is sure to define the season for both teams.
The Sun Devils became bowl eligible after winning a huge game against Washington State last week to snap a four-game losing streak and earn that all-important sixth win on the season.
The Wildcats find themselves in the BCS Top 25 and are currently riding a two-game win streak after losing to UCLA 66-10.
With both teams separated by one game in the win column and sporting the same in-conference record, this should be a great game for fans to watch. The difference will come down to which coach has the best game plan and which team executes.
Here are the keys to victory for each team if they want to hoist the Territorial Cup by the end of the night.
Contain the Run
It's no secret that the Wildcats have one of the best offenses in the country.
With Rich Rodriguez at the helm, Arizona is 24th in the country in passing, 15th in rushing and 22nd in scoring offense. When facing a balanced offense like the Wildcats', it's important to make it as one-dimensional as possible.
Matt Scott is a great quarterback, but this offense is really driven by Ka'Deem Carey. The stud sophomore running back has put up 1,585 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns, including games of over 300 and 200 yards the last two weeks.
If the Devils allow Carey to run for over 200 yards, it will be very difficult for them to match that with their own offense.
Protect the Ball
The Sun Devils have an explosive offense in their own right when things are going smoothly.
Whether things go smoothly or not come down to protecting quarterback Taylor Kelly and putting the sophomore quarterback in a position to succeed. In general, the Sun Devils offense has gone as Kelly goes.
In Arizona State's six victories this season, the sophomore quarterback has thrown no interceptions. In the team's five losses, he has thrown nine. It's clear that Kelly's ability to avoid turnovers has been the deciding factor in many games this season.
Pressure Taylor Kelly
As one might guess, priority No. 1 for the Wildcats' defense has to be forcing Kelly to turn the ball over.
Kelly is an athletic quarterback who can make plays on his feet as well as his arm, but it is still important to make him feel heat in the pocket.
If Arizona is able to get pressure with their front seven, it will create opportunities for the secondary to jump some routes early on. If the Wildcats can force Kelly to have an off night, the Territorial Cup will be theirs for the taking.
Get Ka'Deem Carey Going
In case you haven't followed Arizona at all this season, Ka'Deem Carey is pretty good.
Over the last few weeks, Carey has shown that he might be the most explosive player in the conference. He set a Pac-12 single game rushing record with 366 yards against Colorado two weeks ago and followed it up with over 200 yards.
As much as the Sun Devils need to find a way to contain Carey, the Wildcats will need to establish him early. If the defense has to crash down on Carey to stop him early, it'll open up passing lanes on play action as well as the option read for quarterback Matt Scott.
If the Wildcats can get the offense firing on all cylinders, they'll be awfully hard to beat at home.
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