ASU head coach Todd Graham

The ASU-U of A rivalry is one of the oldest in the country. The Territorial Cup itself is in fact the oldest rivalry trophy in the NCAA. For this very reason both teams go in to their season each and every year with one main goal, beat that other team, prove your superiority in Arizona. For this reason, you have to call Todd Graham’s first year as ASU’s head coach a success; however, there is still much to be desired from this team.

Last night’s game was really a microcosm of the Sun Devils’ season as a whole, inconsistent. Even when leading at half, the game felt like it was being controlled by the Wildcats. Penalties by the Devils and poor tackling of Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey made it feel like it was always Arizona’s game to lose. Despite this, the Devils did take a lead into the half but like they have all year, they came back out looking lackluster yet again.

All year long it seems like when the Devils took some momentum into the locker room, they would leave in there, allowing their opponent to come back into it. Leads against UCLA, Oregon State and USC were all blown during a 4-game losing streak for the Devils.

Of course, it wasn’t all bad. Wins over Illinois, Utah and Cal were all very impressive. It even seemed like ASU would make a game of it against Oregon before Will Sutton and Junior Onyeali both went down early on. Todd Graham had a lot of talent to work with this season, I would say talent that is better than its 7-5 record, but it could’ve been worse.

The season of course is not quite over yet; the Devils still have a bowl game to play. A bowl win for the Devils would be huge, and would be a great ending for Todd Graham as he heads into his second round of recruiting. Graham may have some big shoes to fill in his recruiting too, with Will Sutton and Junior Onyeali both eligible for the NFL draft and neither saying whether or not they’ll stay for one last year. Will Sutton particularly had an out-of-this-world season, racking up 10.5 sacks and an unreal 20 tackles for loss.

There isn’t much to complain about with Todd Graham’s first year as the head coach of the Sun Devils. The Devils improved on both their overall (7-5 in 2012, 6-6 in 2011) and conference (5-4 in 2012, 4-5 in 2011) records this season. In the end though, they beat the Wildcats, and isn’t that all that really matters.