TEMPE—Three years ago, an epic beatdown at home by ASU was the final nail in Kevin Sumlin’s coaching coffin. On Saturday, Jedd Fisch made sure Arizona exorcised the demons from that night, arguably the lowest moment in program history.
The UA spotted ASU a 7-3 lead and then unleashed three years of angst on the Sun Devils, scoring 45 consecutive points and steamrolling to a 59-23 win in the Territorial Cup before a fairly red-and-blue crowd at Mountain America Stadium.
It was the sixth consecutive victory for the 15th-ranked Wildcats (9-3, 7-2 Pac-12) and second straight over ASU (3-9, 2-7), their first back-to Territorial Cup wins since 2008-09. Arizona also won in Tempe for the first time since 2011, and in doing so reached nine wins for just the seventh time in school history.
Arizona’s players laid waste to the T-Cup record book, while also setting some school records. Noah Fifita threw for 527 yards, breaking Anu Solomon’s school record of 520, and surpassing the Cup record of 511 by ASU’s Ryan Kealy in 1998, with five touchdowns and an interception on 30-of-41 passing.
Tetairoa McMillan had 11 catches for 266 yards and a TD, blowing away the T-Cup record of 199 and registering the second most by a UA receiver in a game. Jacob Cowing added nine catches for 157 yards and a TD, his 11th of the season to tie the school mark, and Tanner McLachlan had seven catches for 60 yards and two scores to give him 76 receptions as a Wildcat and break Ron Gronkowski’s career record.
Not to be outdone, Michael Wiley had three TDs (two rushing, one receiving) in the second quarter en route to 101 all-purpose yards.
Arizona gained 619 yards, 11th-most in school history and most against ASU. The Sun Devils had 306 yards including 224 on the ground, the most the UA has allowed in a game this season.
The UA also forced three turnovers, had two sacks and six tackles for loss.
Up 38-7 at the half, Arizona got the ball back 52 seconds into the third quarter after Gunner Maldonado intercepted a pass and returned it inside the 10. Two plays later, Fifita found McLachlan for his second TD catch.
T-Mac broke the Cup receiving record with a 50-yard scoring catch with 9:08 left in the third, with no ASU defender within 20 yards, to make it 52-7.
The Sun Devils ended Arizona’s 45-0 run with a 1-yard Jalin Conyers TD run with 4:04 left in the third, adding the 2-point conversion to cut the margin to 37. The Wildcats then took their foot off the gas, going 3-and-out, with ASU scoring again on a 31-yard TD catch by Troy Omiere, and another 2-point play made it 52-23 early in the fourth quarter.
Arizona had 1st and goal at the ASU 5 on its next drive but Fifita was picked off at the goal line, but on his next throw he surpassed the T-Cup and school records. His final attempt was Cowing’s 1-yard TD catch to cap the scoring with 3:54 remaining.
Arizona got into the red zone on the game’s opening possession but had to settle for a 35-yard field goal, while ASU went all run plays on its first drive and took a 7-3 lead on a 4-yard Cam Skattebo run with 7:53 left in the first quarter. Skattebo ran for 108 yards on 17 carries.
A 39-yard reception by Cowing set up Arizona’s first TD, a 3-yard catch by McClachlan to make it 10-7 with 3:45 left in the first, then after Dalton Johnson tackled Conyers for a loss on 3rd and 2 to start the second quarter the Wildcats made it a 2-score lead two plays later.
The first was a 57-yard catch and run by McMillan, followed by Jonah Coleman scoring on a 4-yard run.
Johnson’s first career interception set up Arizona’s next score, a 22-yard Wiley TD run with 7:16 left in the second to make it 24-7. Wiley then took a direct snap for a 1-yard TD run with 2:12 left in the half for a 31-7 lead, and he scored his third TD of the quarter on a 21-yard catch with 42 seconds remaining.
The UA actually got the ball once more with 31 seconds left after Maldonado forced a fumble that Jacob Kongaika recovered at the ASU 25, but Loop missed a 42-yard kick with 14 seconds remaining.
Arizona now waits until Dec. 3 to find out where it will go for its first bowl game since 2017.