The Duel in the Desert

The Duel in the Desert
The Duel in the Desert
  Asu.png  University of Arizona Block A.svg
First meeting November 30, 1899
Arizona State 11, Arizona 2.[1]
Last meeting November 19, 2011
Next meeting TBD
Total meetings 85
Series record Arizona: 47–37–1 [2]
Arizona State: 37–47–1[2]
Largest victory Arizona, 67–0 (1946) [2]
Longest streak Arizona, 11 (1932–1948)*
[2]*Not Played Between 1938-1940
and 1943-1945
Current streak Arizona: 1 win (2011)[2]
Arizona State: 1 loss, (2011)[2]
Trophy: Territorial Cup[1]

The Duel in the Desert is an intense college football rivalry between the Sun Devils of Arizona State and the Wildcats of the University of Arizona. The game has been played 85 times[1] since its first edition in 1899[1] when Arizona State, then known as the Tempe Normal School defeated the University of Arizona 11-2. Tempe Normal was awarded the Territorial Cup which now serves as a longstanding symbol of the rivalry[3]



The rivalry dates back to before Arizona was admitted as a state, and was a U.S. Territory. In the early history of Arizona, resentment between the cities of Phoenix and Tucson emerged. The University of Arizona was founded in 1885 as the state's first university. The same year, Tempe Normal School was founded as a small teacher's college in the farming community of Tempe, just east of Phoenix. Over the years, Tempe Normal School evolved into Arizona State Teacher's College, then Arizona State College at Tempe, and eventually Arizona State University.[4]

The football rivalry between the two schools dates back over 100 years. The Arizona Territorial Normal School football team was the first to claim the original Territorial Cup for winning the Arizona Territorial Football League Championship after a season of three games in 1899. The Normals, as they were known at the time, were undefeated in gridiron matches with the Phoenix Union High School (6-0), the Phoenix Indian School (6-0) and the University of Arizona (11-2).[4]

The first "Big Game" against the University of Arizona was played on Thanksgiving Day, November 30, 1899 at Carillo Gardens field in Tucson before a vocal and enthusiastic crowd of 300 fans. Newspaper accounts suggested this was the University team's first game and that the Normal squad was physically larger and better conditioned. The atmosphere was one of genuine sportsmanship as the University students met the Normal team at the train station, entertained them at a campus dormitory and hosted a post-game Thanksgiving feast.[4]

"A" Mountains

Both universities feature a large "A" upon a butte. Originally Arizona was the first to feature the "A" in 1916. (Arizona State's "A" is on Hayden Butte next to the Tempe campus, while Arizona's is perched on top of Sentinel Peak, about two miles southwest of campus). Both are publicly accessible. Arizona State's "A" is painted gold for the school's colors of "maroon" & "gold". Arizona's "A" is traditionally painted white, but has been red, white and blue since the beginning of the Iraq War. On rivalry weekend during football season, each university tries to paint the other's "A" with the colors of their school (red and blue for Arizona; maroon and gold for Arizona State), while students and police guard each site.[5][6]


The Duel in the Desert features three traveling trophies that are awarded to the winning team.

The Territorial Cup

The Territorial Cup is a trophy that is awarded annually to the winner of the college football game between the Arizona State University (ASU) Sun Devils and the University of Arizona (UA) Wildcats. It has also served as the symbol of the long standing rivalry between the two schools. The NCAA has certified it as the oldest award given for a rivalry game.[3]

In 2001, then ASU President Lattie Coor made a request that the Territorial Cup be shared with the University of Arizona so the winner of the rivalry football game will take custody of the Cup for the ensuing year. President Coor and then UA President Peter Likens signed a protocol governing use of the Cup and assigning responsibility for the Cup to specific offices at each university.[3]

The Ben Goo Trophy

Prior to the restoration of the Territorial Cup, The Ben Goo Trophy awarded to the victorious team. The trophy served in this capacity from 1979-1998. The trophy is now awarded to the game's most valuable player.[7]

The Saguaro

The Saguaro Trophy is awarded to the coach of the winning team.[7]

Game results

Arizona leads the series 47-37 with one tie. Arizona has won the most recent matchup, defeating the Sun Devils 31-27 on November 19, 2011.[8]

See also


External links

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