2014 ─ Rodriguez Gets His First Taste of a Territorial Cup Victory
The year 2014 had blowouts in both football and futbol. The world saw Brazil suffer what was later coined a “historic disgrace” in a 7-1 loss to Germany. In America, fans saw the Denver Broncos, led by a historic offense with Peyton Manning at the helm, get decimated by a Russell Wilson-led Seattle Seahawks team 43-8 in the Super Bowl.
The national attention would soon turn to the desert after blistering starts from ASU and U of A set up one of the most compelling Territorial Cups under both Graham and Rodriguez.
Arizona State entered the game with a 9-2 record in a season that included victories over a quartet of ranked teams (No. 16 USC, No. 23 Stanford, No. 17 Utah, and No. 10 Notre Dame). Two of the victories came with backup quarterback Mike Bercovici contributing heavily.
The first victory from Bercovici came in a game that now hangs in Sun Devil fan lore due to its unlikely ending. Bercovici took the final snap of the game from around midfield against USC with ASU trailing 34-32.
As a group of Trojan defenders surrounded the deep pass, junior receiver Strong made a play on the ball for the game-winning touchdown. The game and catch are often referred to as the “Jael Mary” game and a top game in Sun Devil history.
Following the victory, ASU entered the Territorial Cup having won six of their last seven games and being ranked No. 13 in the nation. On the flip side, Arizona entered the game with a similar 9-2 record and ranked two spots ahead of the Sun Devils as the No. 11 team in the country.
If this game didn’t already have enough incentive for either team, the winner would also advance to the Pac-12 championship game and win the Pac-12 South.
The game lived up to the hype that surrounded it as Arizona gave Graham his first loss in the Territorial Cup, 42-35. The Wildcats were led behind quarterback Anu Solomon and an explosive running attack led by Nick Wilson who scored three touchdowns that afternoon.
Solomon came into the game as one of the country’s top freshmen and did not disappoint, as he finished the game with and 208 yards and two touchdowns. Solomon would end the season with 3793 yards through the air alongside a 28/9 touchdown to interception ratio during his freshman campaign.
Graham and Co. would cap off senior quarterback Taylor Kelly’s last game as a Sun Devil with a victory over Duke University in the Sun Bowl. Kelly would finish his career as the all-time leader at Arizona State in total offensive yards with 10,223.