To say it’s been a disappointing season in Tucson is a bit of an understatement. Quarterback Khalil Tate entered 2018 on a Heisman Trophy push and new head coach Kevin Sumlin had many believing that a Pac-12 South title could be had in a wide-open division.
Well, just when you thought the team couldn’t go lower, they sunk even further in a stunning 41-40 loss to Arizona State on Saturday afternoon that will keep the Territorial Cup in Tempe as a result.
The Wildcats had led from the beginning of the game and entered the fourth quarter with a healthy 16 point lead and plenty of momentum. Tate, who has looked much healthier in the back end of the season than the beginning, was electric running around at times — throwing for three touchdowns and 282 yards while adding 46 more on the ground all told.
What he gave, however, Tate also took away. The signal-caller threw an interception in the fourth quarter and added a fumble on a handoff that was just the kind of match needed to spark a 19-point ASU rally down the stretch. Both of the turnovers came near his goal line that the Sun Devils then converted each into points the other way. By the time Eno Benjamin crossed the goal line with 3:08 left to put Herm Edwards’ crew in front, the meltdown in the desert was fully complete.
It’s not like the visitors from Tempe were doing all that much to take control of things before then either. QB Manny Wilkins threw for only 265 yards and a touchdown while nearly becoming the team’s leading rusher as well with 57 yards and another score. Benjamin finished the game with 80 hard-fought yards and three scores while it was a fairly quiet effort in potentially N'Keal Harry‘s final game after the top wideout caught four passes for 55 yards.
That’s not to say it will be Arizona State’s final game of the season as they moved to 7-5 in Edwards’ first season with a bowl game still to play. While the overall record for the Sun Devils was nearly identical to their mark last year, they did check off a few boxes with a big non-conference win over Michigan State earlier on and, more importantly, retain the Territorial Cup for another year.
As for Arizona, they will find themselves wondering what happened to their season as they let another victory slip through their hands to fall to 5-7. Not only will that keep the Wildcats out of a bowl game but it should prompt plenty of second-guessing in Tucson after a disastrous up-and-down campaign that was once filled with such promise.