ASU seniors have score to settle with Wildcats

TEMPE, Ariz. —
As teammates at Corona (Calif.) Centennial High School, Arizona State senior linebacker Brandon Magee and University of Arizona senior quarterback Matt Scott became close friends, graduating the same year but committing to rival schools.

As the two teams prepare for Friday’s Territorial Cup game, Magee says any friendliness is on hold.

“Friendship?” Magee rebuked, at least half jokingly after Saturday’s win over Washington State. “That’s completely out the window. What? I’m not even going to say hi to the man. I’ll pull him up off the floor.”

To Magee, his history with Scott is only a small wrinkle in the rivalry. He’s more motivated by getting a win in his last Territorial cup game, which would bring his personal record against the Wildcats to .500.

“Honestly, I’m always highly motivated to beat UA, but to go out with a win would be huge just for ASU as a whole and for all of us (seniors),” Magee said. “When I played, I lost to them twice and I’ve got to beat them once, so I’ve got to even it out.”

Magee missed last year’s game while out injured, but remembers well the year before when the Sun Devils toppled the Wildcats 30-29 in double overtime in Tucson.

“I like playing them better over there than here honestly, because the looks on their faces in 2010 were priceless,” Magee said.

Magee is hardly the only Sun Devil a little extra motivated by his last shot at the Wildcats, as ASU graduates a class of 17 this season. Fellow team captain and senior safety Keelan Johnson expressed similar sentiments.

“It doesn’t even have to be a rivalry; I want to win every game,” Johnson said. “But this being my last game against the Wildcats, I want to go out there and bring the Territorial Cup back to Tempe.”

Ask any former ASU or UA player his career record against the in-state rival, and most probably wouldn’t have a hard time telling you. Former ASU linebacker Adam Archuleta, who played for the Sun Devils from 1996-2000 had no trouble recalling he went 2-2 — but 3-2 if his redshirt season is included.

Archuleta said a cloud hung over his final Territorial Cup game with coach Bruce Snyder already fired but coaching the game. Still, Archuleta says the seniors were motivated to beat the Wildcats once more (they did), as well as earn a bowl bid.

“With the finality of it all, ending your year beating UA was a lot of fun,” Archuleta said. “That one is kind of like the end of an era.”

It’s not just the seniors thinking about their final record against UA, though; junior offensive lineman Evan Finkenberg showed Monday he’s already thinking ahead.

“I want to end my career beating Arizona more than I’ve lost to them,” Finkenberg said. “It’s a pivotal game for me since I’m a junior now.”

Finkenberg still defers to the seniors in their final Territorial Cup.

“You want to send the seniors out with a win, especially with the rivalry game,” Finkenberg said. “The rest of their lives they can say they beat their rivals the last time they ever played them.”