This was Arizona's day

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

It was as though Arizona had an epiphany at halftime: "Hey, we're way better than these guys!"

The Wildcats rode a 21-point third-quarter to a 31-10 win over Arizona State, ending a three-game losing streak in the Territorial Cup.

Arizona's money players just took over.

Quarterback Willie Tuitama thoroughly outplayed Rudy Carpenter, in large part because of his superior supporting cast. Tuitama completed 25 of 37 for 284 yards and two touchdowns, while Carpenter, 3-0 in previous games with Arizona, went 13 for 31 for 125 yards with a touchdown and interception.

Receiver Mike Thomas returned a punt 52 yards for a touchdown and caught nine passes for 75 yards. Tight end Rob Gronkowski hauled in six balls for 95 yards and a TD.

By winning, Arizona improved to 7-5 on the year and 5-4 in the Pac-10 and earned a spot in the Las Vegas Bowl, where the Wildcats apparently will play BYU.

Coach Mike Stoops started the season under intense pressure to get his team to a bowl game for the first time since 1998. He clinched that with a sixth win a month ago, but consecutive defeats had some fans grumbling again.

This should quiet that, particularly because the Wildcats also prevented the Sun Devils (5-7, 4-5) from becoming the Pac-10's sixth bowl-eligible team.

Arizona trailed 10-7 at halftime, despite dominating statistically. By the game's end, the scoreboard matched the stats.