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#13 Sun Devils play host to Wildcats in 81st duel in the desert

November 26, 2007
Date: Saturday, December 1, 2007
Kickoff: 6:00 p.m. MT
Site: Frank Kush Field/Sun Devil Stadium (71,706) - Tempe, Ariz.
Television: ESPN2
Play-by-Play: Mark Jones
Color: Bob Davie
Sideline: Stacey Dales
Sun Devil Radio: KTAR 620 AM
Play-by-Play: Tim Healey
Color: Former ASU QB and 1987 Rose Bowl MVP Jeff Van Raaphorst
Sideline: Amy Bender

• 2007 marks the 18th time in school history ASU has won at least nine games
Rudy Carpenter and UA's Willie Tuitama are two of only three Pac-10 QBs to have started every game in 2007
Rudy Carpenter is the fourth QB in ASU history to pass for 2,000 yards three straight years
• Senior WR Rudy Burgess is the only active player in the Pac-10 Conference and one of three in the nation to have surpassed 1,000 yards rushing, receiving and returning during his career
• Junior TB Keegan Herring has 2,199 career rushing yards, 10th most in Arizona State football history
• The ASU defense has allowed an average of 1.1 points in the fourth quarter this season
• Arizona State is bowl eligible for the fourth straight season, the second time in school history it has done that
• The Sun Devil defense had their streak of consecutive games with a takeaway snapped at 12 by USC
• ASU has not suffered back-to-back losing seasons in 59 years, the fourth-longest active streak in the nation

TEMPE, Ariz. - After suffering a 44-24 loss to USC on Thanksgiving, Arizona State hopes to bounce back against its in-state rival Arizona in the battle for the Territorial Cup. ASU enters the contest 9-2, 6-2 in Pac-10 play. Arizona is 5-6, 4-4 in conference play after a 34-24 win over Oregon on Nov. 15.

The Sun Devil Sports Network will carry all 12 of ASU's football games live on its 10-station radio network, including flagship station Sports 620 KTAR AM. Tim Healey (play-by-play) and former Sun Devil quarterback Jeff Van Raaphorst (color analyst) will call the action.

ESPN2 will televise the Duel in the Desert to a national audience. Mark Jones will handle play-by-play while Bob Davie will serve as color analyst. Stacey Dales will patrol the sidelines.

Saturday will be the 81st meeting between the Sun Devils and the Wildcats. Arizona leads the all-time series 44-35-1, but Arizona State has won the last two, including a 28-14 win last season in Tucson.

The oldest intercollegiate rivalry trophy in the nation, the Territorial Cup was first presented to Tempe Normal School (now ASU) in 1899.

The Sun Devils come into the match up with Arizona ranked #13 in the AP Poll, the USA Today Coaches poll and the BCS Standings.

Despite a Rudy Burgess kickoff return for touchdown in the first quarter, the Sun Devils fell to USC 44-24 on Thanksgiving night. Trojans QB John David Booty threw for 375 yards and four touchdowns to lead USC to the victory. Rudy Carpenter threw for 240 yards and a touchdown.

Tyrice Thompson blocked a punt by USC's Greg Woidneck early in the fourth quarter, giving the Sun Devils their second blocked kick of the year. The first came at home against California (October 27) when Luis Vasquez blocked a field goal attempt. The last blocked punt came at Colorado last year when Brandon Smith blocked an attempt from Matthew DiLallo
• Arizona State shut out an opponent in the fourth quarter of play for the eighth time this year and the fourth game in a row

Rudy Carpenter continues to be one of the top QBs in the Pac-10 Conference. Carpenter ranks second to WSU's Alex Brink, who is a year of eligibility ahead of Carpenter, in passing attempts, completed passes, passing yards, touchdown passes and 300 yard games. Carpenter now has 61 career touchdown passes and has thrown for 7,564 yards in his three seasons at ASU. Carpenter was named a semifinalist for the Davey O'Brien Award, given to the nation's top QB.

Rudy Carpenter now has 61 touchdown passes in his career. He is only the fourth Sun Devil all-time to throw at least 60 touchdowns, joining Andrew Walter (85), Jake Plummer (65) and Danny White (64). The 61 career TD passes are tied for 14th-most in Pac-10 history with Oregon's Kellen Clemens. With his touchdown toss against the Trojans, Carpenter passed Oregon's Bill Musgrave, who threw 60 career scoring strikes. Rudy is one TD shy of Oregon's Danny O'Neil for 13th-place in Pac-10 history. O'Neil threw 62 touchdowns for the Ducks from 1991 to 1994.

With his 240 yards through the air against USC, Rudy Carpenter now has 7,564 career passing yards as a Sun Devil. He is only the third Sun Devil to ever pass the 7,000 yard mark, joining Andrew Walter (10,617) and Jake Plummer (8,827). He has also topped the 2,000 yard mark for the season, the third straight year he has achieved that milestone. He has 2,768 yards passing so far in 2007. He is the fourth Sun Devil in history to pass for at least 2,000 yards three straight times. He joins Jeff Van Raaphorst (1984-86), Jake Plummer (1994-96) and Andrew Walter (2002-04) on that list.

Rudy Burgess is one of only three active FBS players and one of only 14 FBS players all-time to top the 1,000-yard mark in rushing, receiving and return yardage. In his career, Burgess has 1,093 yards on the ground, 1,488 yards through the air and 1,544 return yards on both punts and kickoffs. He has scored 19 times as a Sun Devil, six rushing,12 receiving and one return. He also threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Derek Hagan in 2005 against Washington State. Hagan set the school record for career touchdown receptions on that pass.

Burgess returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at seven in the first quarter against USC. Burgess' return, only the second by a Sun Devil at home in the last 21 years, is the first return for a score since Terry Richardson returned an Oregon kick 100 yards on September 30, 2006. The return for Burgess is the first of his career and just the 13th kickoff return for a score in program history. Following his second kick return of the night, Burgess became ASU's all-time leader in kickoff return yards, passing Chris Hopkins. Hopkins totaled 1,225 from 1992 to 1995. Burgess now has 1,301 kickoff return yards in his career.

Burgess finished the USC game with 166 kickoff return yards, establishing a new school record for kickoff return yards in a single game. He broke the record held by Kevin Galbreath, who had 159 yards vs. Houston in 1990.

WR Chris McGaha has been the go-to-guy for the Sun Devil offense on third down in 2007. He has 46 catches for the season, and of those 46 receptions, 36 of them have gone for a first down, including three of the five against USC. Though he has yet to find the end zone, 78% of his catches have resulted in a Sun Devil first down.

Troy Nolan picked up his fifth interception of the year against Washington on Oct. 13. The five picks by Nolan is the most by a Sun Devil in a single season since Nijrell Eason had five in 2000.

Redshirt freshman kicker Thomas Weber has been named one of the three finalists for the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation's top kicker. The award will be presented in Orlando, Fla. on Dec. 6 during the ESPN Home Depot Awards Show. Weber is the first Sun Devil to be named a finalist for the award.

Groza Award finalist Thomas Weber has begun his ASU career like no other kicker before him. The redshirt freshman kicker had his school record of 17-straight successful field goal attempts end against the Ducks on Nov. 3. Before missing wide right on a 32-yard attempt at the end of the second quarter, Weber had connected on a 19-yarder and a 34-yarder to give him 17 field goals in a row. Not only was that the best streak in ASU history to begin a career, it's also a school record for most consecutive made field goals. Alan (1987) and Luis (1981) Zendejas shared the previous record of nine, and Mike Richey held the previous record of consecutive field goals to begin a career at eight in 1989 and 1990. Weber continued his stellar year against USC, connecting on a 25-yarder. It was his 20th made field goal of the year, putting him two away from tying the Pac-10 freshman record held by UCLA's Kai Forbath. Forbath set the record last week. The NCAA record for field goals by a freshman is also within reach, as Weber needs only three more to tie Collin Mackie of South Carolina, who went 23-30 in 1987.

Weber's 20 field goals so far this season are the fourth-most field goals made in a single season in school history. Luis Zendejas holds the school record with 28, going 28-37 in the 1983 season. Weber needs three more to tie Mike Barth, who made 23 in 2002, for third on the list. Weber is first in the Pac-10 in scoring, averaging 9.1 points per game.

Robert James continues to be a leader on the Sun Devil defense. James has led Arizona State in tackles seven times this year, including the USC game when he recorded 11 stops. He leads the team with 94 total tackles. He's also made eight tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks this season.

Sophomore defensive end Dexter Davis enjoyed one of the most sensational freshman seasons by a Sun Devil defender in school history last season, earning Pac-10 All-Freshman honors and honorable mention freshman All-America recognition by The Sporting News. The Phoenix, Ariz., native recorded a team-best and Pac-10 freshman season-high 6.0 quarterback sacks, the third-most by a Sun Devil rookie in school history. Davis' total trails only those by Terrell Suggs (2000) and Shante Carver (1990), who each posted 10.0 sacks as a freshman and in total, Suggs (44 career sacks) and Carver (41) rank first and second on ASU's all-time career sacks list. Also, Davis totaled 40 tackles on the season, the most by an ASU freshman since TSN freshman All-America safety Jason Shivers' team-high 89 total stops in 2001. Davis has picked up right where he left off, as he has racked up a team leading 8.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss.

Arizona State is ranked nationally in many major categories on both offense and defense. The Sun Devils are ranked 17th nationally in pass efficiency defense (109.17). The defense is also ranked 17th in the nation in rushing defense (106.1 ypg). The Sun Devils lead the country in Time of Possession at 33:53 and are 10th in the country in Pass Efficiency (151.6). Rudy Carpenter is 14th nationally in pass efficiency (151.94), while Groza Award finalist Thomas Weber is tied for 10th nationally with 20 field goals.

No team in the Pac-10 showcased as many talented defensive freshmen as ASU did in 2006, headlined by defensive end Dexter Davis and linebacker Travis Goethel, both of whom earned Pac-10 All-Freshman and honorable mention Freshman All-America honors by The Sporting News. Both Davis and Goethel anchor the Sun Devil defense in 2007.

The Sun Devils showcase one of the most experienced and honored offensive lines in the Pac-10, as ASU boasts the only unit of linemen in the conference which returns all five starters from the conclusion of the 2006 season. Also, ASU returns three offensive linemen that received All-Pac-10 honors in 2006, trailing only Oregon State for most in the conference and five Sun Devil linemen, including four starters, have already earned their undergraduate degree. The Sun Devil front five is led by second-team All-Pac-10 center, graduate Mike Pollak and honorable mention All-Pac-10 recipients junior guard Paul Fanaika and graduate tackle Brandon Rodd. Graduate guard Robert Gustavis and graduate tackle Julius Orieuwku also provide starting experience for 2007. In 2006, the Sun Devil blockers helped enable ASU to gain its greatest rushing total since 1999 and showcase the team's first 1,000-yard runner since 2001. So far this season, the line has done their job again. ASU is averaging 151.1 yards per game on the ground and Ryan Torain reached the 100 yard mark on the ground three times. Keegan Herring also has three 100-yard games under his belt. Also, ASU has rushed for 16 touchdowns so far this year.

After establishing itself in recent years as a national offensive powerhouse predominately predicated on its passing attack, ASU proved it could attack opposing defenses with a punishing ground game last season. The Sun Devils boast one of the best backfields in the Pac-10, featuring junior Keegan Herring and sophomore Dimitri Nance. ASU rushed for 2,206 yards in 2006 and so far in 2007 it has gained 1,662 yards on the ground. In total, ASU has three of eight active Pac-10 ballcarriers to have surpassed 1,000 career rushing yards, including Herring and Ryan Torain as well as senior wide receiver Rudy Burgess, who is a dangerous all-purpose threat and was ASU's starting tailback during the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

After breaking ASU's freshman rushing record by totaling 870 yards in 2005, junior Keegan Herring rushed for 549 yards on 94 carries in 2006 as part of the most dynamic rushing combination in the Pac-10 Conference. One of the quickest athletes in the Pac-10, Herring led all Sun Devil runners last season averaging 5.8 yards-per-carry and is one of only four active ballcarriers in the conference to have rushed for over 500 yards in each of the past two seasons. He has hit the 500 yard mark again, the third straight year he has surpassed it. Herring has 780 yards on 143 carries so far in 2007. In 36 career games, the Peoria (Ariz.) High School product has totaled 395 carries for 2,199 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns.

With 2,199 career rushing yards, Keegan Herring has become the 16th Sun Devil to rush for over 2,000 yards in his career. Herring is one of only six active Pac-10 running backs to achieve the 2,000 yard mark. He is the first Sun Devil to get to 2,000 yards since J.R. Redmond, who did it from 1996 to 1999. Herring is now 10th all-time in ASU history with his 2,199 yards, 275 yards shy of Ben Malone for 9th place.

Rudy Carpenter is now 20-9 as Arizona State's starting quarterback. That's the fifth most victories by a starting ASU QB all-time. Danny White holds the all-time record for wins by a starting QB, going 30-3 in from 1971 to 1973. Dennis Sproul is second with a 26-11 record from 1974-77. Carpenter is one win shy of Jeff Van Raaphorst for fourth-place.

Dennis Erickson is no stranger to facing ranked opponents. In his career, Coach Erickson is 27-17 against Top 25 teams, including an 8-5 record against teams in the Top 5.

The 8-0 start at ASU for Dennis Erickson was not only the best start by a coach in school history, it was one of the best starts in the history of the Pac-10 Conference. The 8-0 mark was the second-best start by a Pac-10 coach in the Post-War Era, and the best start in the past 56 years. In 1951, Stanford's Charles Taylor started 9-0. Coach Erickson is also the first ASU coach to ever win his first five Pac-10 games at ASU.

For just the second time in ASU history, the Sun Devils are bowl eligible for a bowl game for the fourth straight season. The last time ASU went to four straight bowl games was from 1970 to 1973, when it appeared in the Peach Bowl and the first three Fiesta Bowls.

Sun Devil fans were treated to musical legend Little Richard at halftime of the USC game. Little Richard is an inaugural member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and performed with the Sun Devil Marching Band. It marked Little Richard's final public appearance ever.

The Arizona State football team has several two-sport athletes on the roster. WR Mike Jones has spent the past two seasons as a centerfielder for the baseball team, including last year's Pac-10 Championship team that advanced to the College World Series. Jones was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 42nd round of the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft, but has opted not to sign a contract and will return to the baseball team in 2008. WR Kyle Williams will also play baseball for ASU in 2008. He took the 2007 baseball season off to concentrate on football, but hopes to compete for an infield spot in 2008. In addition to the baseball players, ASU football also has three student-athletes who participated in the Pac-10 Track & Field Championships last season. WR Rodney Glass, CB Justin Tryon and WR Brandon Smith all ran for the Devils in Palo Alto, Calif.

Eight members of the Arizona State football team have already earned their undergraduate degrees, tied for the fifth most players in the country. Five of the ASU grads are offensive linemen.

The meeting with USC at Sun Devil Stadium was sold out, giving Arizona State back-to-back sell outs. The previous home game against California on Oct. 27 was also sold out.

Arizona State University football will say goodbye to 27 seniors who will be making their final appearance at Frank Kush Field/Sun Devil Stadium against the Wildcats. The Sun Devil Seniors are: CB Chris Baloney, S Josh Barrett, WR Rudy Burgess, TE Brady Conrad, OL Djadji Daffe, WR Jeff Gray, CB Chad Green, OL Robert Gustavis, LB Robert James, CB Littrele Jones, TB Preston Jones, P Jonathan Johnson, LB Garrett Judah, OL Zack Krula, DL Michael Marquardt, DL Tashaka Merriweather, TE Brent Miller, DL Kellen Mills, DL Tranell Morant, S Brett Nenaber, OL Julius Orieukwu, SN Jason Perkins, C Mike Pollak, OL Brandon Rodd, WR/TE Tyrice Thompson, TB Ryan Torain and CB Justin Tryon.