College football Rivalry Weekend – when rankings, odds and predictions mean little. The emotion of an annual rivalry can bring out skills and strengths not seen the rest of the season.
We began our Rivalry Weekend viewing Friday night with the Duel in the Desert. The University of Arizona and Arizona State were playing for the Territorial Cup, the oldest trophy in college football. The fact that the Cup is small and looks like it belongs in a silver tea set doesn’t stop the teams from fighting vigorously to take it to their campus.
The #24 ranked Wildcats scored first, but the Sun Devils intercepted two Arizona passes in the second quarter which both led to ASU touchdowns. Halftime score: Arizona State leading 14-9.
Early in the third quarter, ASU kicked a field goal. While we were in the kitchen making nachos (our favorite second half snack as students), we grew concerned for ASU’s chance to regain the Cup as we heard Arizona score two touchdowns followed by a field goal. The Sun Devils are generally not a strong fourth quarter comeback team. But they did take control in the fourth last night, with a field goal and three touchdowns. Arizona managed to score a touchdown with 1:54 on the clock, but it was too late. Arizona State takes back the Territorial Cup 41-34.
Today #4 University of Florida and #10 Florida State fought for state bragging rights. In many ways this game mimicked last night’s. The Gators were ahead at the half, FSU came on strong with 17 points in the third quarter, and Florida fought back with 24 straight points in nine minutes during the fourth. Turnovers played a significant role for Florida in this game, as they did for Arizona State yesterday. Final score: UF 37 – FSU 26.
Throughout most of the season, Florida’s defense has been the star. But the offense seemed equally strong in today‘s game. The Gators looked more like the #4 BCS team in the US than they have all season.
We were also following a non-rivalry game, Wisconsin at Penn State. The game was hard-fought on both sides, with the score tied at the end of regulation time. After Penn State’s field goal in OT, Wisconsin just could not capitalize on their opportunities to score. They did more to lose the game than Penn State actually did to win.