Tie goes to the Sun Devils

ASU wins back the rivalry cup by qualifying for more NCAA Tournaments than UA

Tie goes to the Sun Devils
N'Keal Harry and the ASU football team's stunning 4th quarter rally to beat UA in the 2018 Territorial Cup game helped flip the annual rivalry series back to the Sun Devils. (Source: Arizona Athletics)

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - Arizona Athletics should be celebrating their third straight Territorial Cup victory over rival Arizona State. Instead it’s the Sun Devils who are walking away with the trophy for the second time in that three-year period.

ASU was assured of the title on Wednesday when the second to last Learfield IMG College Directors’ Cup Standings were released. The Sun Devils currently sit 22nd (783.50) to the Wildcats 39th (572.50).

The Directors’ Cup is the tie-breaker for the Territorial Cup Series. This year ASU and UA broke even in the 21 sports in which they compete annually (10.5-10.5).

The annual all sports rivalry battle is now an even 5-5 after this the 10th-year of the competition.

The final sport to crown a national champion annually is baseball.

The Wildcats will not receive any additional Directors’ Cup points as they did not qualify for the NCAA Tournament and thus cannot catch ASU in the standings.

The Sun Devils won one game in the NCAA Baseball tournament and will receive 37.5 more points to finish with an overall total score of 821. With that score ASU should have a shot to land as a Top 20 Division I program for the first time since 2013.

The final standings will be released at the conclusion of the College World Series.

UA jumped from 53rd place to 39th place thanks to a Top 6 national finish by Mike Candrea’s softball program and a solid showing at the NCAA Championships by Fred Harvey’s track and field programs.

The Wildcats’ women’s golf team also bolstered Arizona’s showing finishing Top 4 at the NCAA Championships.

Arizona though will likely fall out of the Top 40 for a third consecutive year (42nd-2017 and 51st-2018) when the final standings are released in two weeks.

So what happened in 2018-19?

Well at the end of the day in terms of the Directors’ Cup, ASU put 18 of its programs into NCAA Tournaments versus just UA’s 13.

Arizona State posted a huge overall athletic showing in the winter sports. Both Sun Devil basketball teams made the NCAA Tournament where the Wildcats were shutout in that category. Winning the WNIT did nothing to help UA in this standing.

ASU also profited over Arizona in two sports the Wildcats don’t play (men’s hockey and wrestling). The Sun Devils currently field 26 athletic teams to UA’s 21 which gives them a slight advantage in the Director’s Cup as they have five additional sports to compete in for national points.

Schools are allowed to count 19 sports toward their final total in the Learfield Directors’ Cup, four of those sports must be baseball, women’s volleyball and women’s and men’s basketball.

But if you just counted the Directors’ Cup points from the 21 sports contested in the Territorial Cup Series, ASU still wins by a wide margin (731.5-572.50).

What happened in terms of the head-to-head?

The Wildcats stunning late loss to the Sun Devils in the Territorial Cup football game in November and ASU’s sweep of UA in men’s basketball, for the first time since the Series began, stand as key games that tilted the rivalry battle this year.

Sun Devil Baseball also swept Arizona marking the first time since the 1971-72 school year that ASU won every game (7-0) against the Wildcats in the three major men’s sports.

The Territorial Cup Series has been strikingly close the last three years. Arizona won by one point (11-10) last year but lost by one point (10.5.-9.5) in 2016-17 when the Wildcats favored men’s track team fell to the Sun Devils again by one-point (51-50) at the Pac-12 Championships.

This is the first time officially that the trophy was awarded on the basis of the school’s final standings in the Learfield Directors’ Cup.

The disputed 2012-2013 Cup trophy was the lone other year the Directors’ Cup came into play. ASU claims victory based on winning the point in the added sport of men’s indoor track and field and their better standing in the Directors’ Cup (ASU-18th, UA-23rd).

Men’s Indoor Track and Field had not been a sport of competition when the Series was created in 2009-2010 and thus Arizona claims a one-point victory for 2012-13 athletic year.

For the purpose of history our David Kelly, who was on the IMG College staff at UA Athletics when the Series was created, awards the 2012-13 trophy to UA based on the rules at the beginning of that athletic year.

Indoor track and beach volleyball were subsequently added into Cup Series to begin the 2013-14 school year. Men’s tennis became the 21st sport of competition in 2017-18.

Here’s how the series shook out this school year:


  • Volleyball
  • Men’s Cross Country
  • Soccer
  • Women’s Indoor Track
  • Men’s Indoor Track
  • Men’s Swimming and Diving
  • Softball
  • Beach Volleyball
  • Women’s Golf
  • Men’s Track

Arizona State

  • Football
  • Women’s Cross Country
  • Men’s Basketball
  • Women’s Swimming and Diving
  • Gymnastics
  • Men’s Tennis
  • Baseball
  • Women’s Tennis
  • Men’s Golf
  • Women’s Track


  • Women’s Basketball

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