ARIZONA STATE FOOTBALL

Memory of win by UA last year still riles Devils

2012-11-23T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T16:05:28Z Memory of win by UA last year still riles DevilsPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 23, 2012 12:00 am  • 

The Arizona Wildcats irked their rivals last year, both by winning the Territorial Cup and by stomping on the pitchfork painted midfield at Sun Devil Stadium.

"That's one of the things I remember," ASU free safety Keelan Johnson said, "and one of the things I will use to my advantage when I play."

There have been plenty of opportunities for the visiting team to celebrate in the rivalry, which continues tonight at Arizona Stadium.

The road team has won the past three games, and five of the last 10.

"If you are picking where you want to play, you'd obviously rather play at home," ASU coach Todd Graham said. "But I think, pretty much, most of that stuff is thrown out."

The road team has won 36 of the 85 Territorial Cup games.

That 42 percent clip, however, is almost identical to the 43 percent win rate of Pac-12 road teams in conference games this season.

"On both sides, the home crowd plays to the advantage," UA junior running back Daniel Jenkins said.

"But coming in on the road, you might know you have to prepare harder.

"You try to sneak in and win that way."

Arizona State has won 19 of the 38 rivalry games played in the Phoenix area.

The Wildcats, meanwhile, have won 29 of 47 at Arizona Stadium.

"It's kinda a hostile environment," ASU wideout Kevin Ozier said. "The fans are screaming at you as you take the field and stuff like that, but you gotta really focus in on the game at hand and not let that stuff get to you."

For road teams, the hardest part is staying focused.

Junior left tackle Evan Finkenberg said one of his challenges is to "try to help the younger guys understand what the atmosphere's like" at Arizona Stadium. The key, he said, is to treat the night like "just another football game - it's not, but it is."

Graham has preached maturity and calm.

"What I tell them is, 'You're not gonna remember what some person said to you hanging over the rail. You're not gonna remember who had the best Twitters or talked the most trash.

"'You're going to remember who won the game. And what's important is that you stay focused on that.'

"That's one of the things that's always a challenge about going on the road, especially in a rivalry game.

"I've coached in some that are pretty hostile; I don't think that there's one that can rank as more hostile than this one will be."

Johnson said he expects the UA crowd to be in full throat. Just taking the field in a rivalry game, he said, is different.

"It's a lot of emotion," he said. "You've got a lot of fans out there watching you and observing what you do there."

If history is any indication, the home team should be watching with suspicion.

"We want," Finkenberg said, "to bring the trophy home."

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