The Territorial Cup is the prize, a 100-year-old trophy given to the winner of the annual in-state rivalry game.
Momentum is the means to that silvery end.
On Friday night, visiting Arizona State had too much of it for the UA to counter. Marion Grice ran for three touchdowns and 156 yards as the Sun Devils scored 24 consecutive fourth-quarter points and left Tucson with a 41-34 victory.
And, with it, the Cup.
"Any time there's a turnover either way, it's a huge momentum swing," UA coach Rich Rodriguez said. "There's never one play that beats you. There are several plays. There were times that we were just hanging on. There were times we were hanging on all year. …"
With the victory in the final regular-season game, ASU (7-5, 5-4 Pac-12) pulled even with the Wildcats in overall record and moved one game ahead in the conference standings.
The UA (7-5, 4-5) will learn its postseason fate sometime in the next week; a trip to the New Mexico or Kraft Fight Hunger bowls now seems likely. The visiting team has now won the last four Territorial Cup games.
The game was Arizona's to lose - and then they lost it.
In one furious fourth-quarter span, the Devils forced and recovered a fumble, blocked a punt, intercepted a pass, scored three touchdowns and hit a field goal.
It all started with the strangest play of the game.
UA quarterback Matt Scott fumbled as he attempted to hurdle a Sun Devils linebacker with the UA driving and leading by a touchdown with 9 minutes remaining. He mistimed his jump, however, and landed on his feet just in time to get hit. The ball came out and squirted toward midfield, and the Devils recovered.
Grice's 4-yard touchdown run, his third score of the day, pulled the Sun Devils even. Grice was named the game's most outstanding player.
The Wildcats took over with a chance to regain the lead, but went three-and-out.
Kevin Ayers blocked Kyle Dugandzic's punt attempt, and the Sun Devils downed the ball at Arizona's 8. Running back Cameron Marshall scored one play later, putting the Devils ahead for good.
The next few minutes were a blur for the Wildcats; Scott was intercepted by Robert Nelson, who returned the ball to the 2. Michael Eubank's scoring dive put the Devils up by two touchdowns - too much to overcome, even for Arizona's high-powered offense.
While the Wildcats were able to drive and score in 57 seconds, John Bonano's onside kick failed - and with it went any chance for a comeback.
The Devils then ran the clock out.
Arizona outgained the Wildcats 522 yards to 460, but turned the ball over four times. Scott had an up-and-down Senior Night, completing 19 of 39 passes for 230 yards and three touchdowns. Scott was intercepted three times. He was not made available to the media after the game.
Running back Daniel Jenkins said the Cats' quarterback had nothing to be ashamed of. "I would tell him not to hang his head at all," he said. "You win some, you lose some, but at the end of the day, he's a helluva quarterback."
Tailback Ka'Deem Carey ran 25 times for 172 yards, setting the UA's single-season rushing mark, but was limited for most of the second half because of a collarbone injury.
With the game's two stars - Carey and ASU defensive lineman Will Sutton - out, the teams turned to backups and down-the-depth-chart players to produce.
Arizona, for a while, found the right guys. The Wildcats scored 18 consecutive points to finish the third quarter, and seemed to have all the momentum.
Bonano booted a field goal and ran in a fake PAT for a two-point conversion and Garic Wharton and Austin Hill caught touchdown passes as the Wildcats took a 27-17 lead.
The kicker's run came after arguably the catch of the year, a 40-yard pass from Scott to Wharton. Wharton, a speed merchant not known for his hands, leapt in traffic, caught the pass, landed, spun and ran in for the score.
Nose tackle Tevin Hood, a walk-on whose brother, Jaxon, is a scholarship player at ASU, posted a team-high 10 tackles. Jenkins ran for a career-high 78 yards in relief of an injured Carey, keeping the Wildcats' scoring drives alive - and the momentum going.
Hood said the game lived up to the hype.
"Everybody comes to play, it's more intense," he said. "I expected it to live up to this."