Here are five things to keep an eye on in the 89th edition of the Duel in the Desert.
1. Last year means absolutely nothing (or the year before, or the year before that): While Arizona holds a 48-39-1 edge in this rivalry, it’s not one that has truly been dominated by one team for long stretches. The longest streak was when Arizona went 8-0-1 in the 80s. Since then each team has only posted one three-game winning streak (ASU in 2005-2007, Arizona in 1993-1995).
2. Expect drama: As we’ve come to learn in the Pac-12 of late, home-field advantage means very little. The trend of road teams' dominance spilled over from 2014 into this year, with the road team holding a 23-20 edge in 43 league games. This rivalry has been a reflection of that. Four of the last six matchups have gone to the visitors – and usually it’s been close. Five of the past six games have been decided by a total of 22 points that included a fourth-quarter comeback, two blocked extra points, a late field goal and two late defensive stands being the difference.
3. Get to six? Arizona State would sure love to become bowl eligible at their rival’s expense. The Sun Devils picked up win No. 5 last week against Washington. While this is the final regular-season game for the Wildcats, who are already bowl eligible with six wins, the Sun Devils still have one more game next week at Cal. So this isn’t all or nothing. But here’s guessing Todd Graham & Co. would prefer not to put it off. Should ASU pick up its sixth win, it would be the league’s ninth bowl-eligible team.
4. Will he or won’t he? Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon was listed as questionable on the weekly injury report. He suffered a concussion last week in the double-overtime win against Utah, and Jerrard Randall came in to finish out (and ultimately win) the game. Solomon was playing well against the Utes – particularly with his legs where he had 86 yards and a touchdown prior to the injury. Randall, who is only completing 52.4 percent of his throws with five touchdowns to three interceptions, has three 100-yard rushing games this season.
5. High-scoring game? Neither team has been particularly stout defensively this season. Arizona is 11th in the league, yielding an average of 34.2 points per game. The Sun Devils, ranked ninth, aren’t much better, allowing 30.7 points per contest. One area where the Sun Devils do excel defensively, though, is sacks. They lead the league with 36. So whoever is in at quarterback for the Wildcats will no doubt be on high alert.