Hats off to you, Mr. Foles.
Photo by David Kadlubowski/The Arizona Republic

Some losses are more costly than others.

At first glance the Arizona Wildcats football team didn’t lose much by falling to Arizona State in the 2010 Territorial Cup game. The Cats still got an Alamo Bowl bid and the Sun Devils are still staying home for the holidays.

The UA relinquished ownership of the 111-year-old trophy for the first time in three years but the biggest shame in the (first) blocked extra point is it robbed Nick Foles of a legacy-defining moment in perhaps his final home game.

Every athlete wants to be known as “clutch.” For some it’s a vague label based on a couple random big plays. For others it’s a collection of facts that do not lie.

In the 2nd half and overtime against ASU, Nick Foles completed 15 of 20 passes (75%) for 213 yards and 3 touchdowns.

A great performance, no doubt. But clutch goes beyond one game. It builds a resume that looks like this:

Year Vs. Time Left Deficit Result W/L
2009 Washington 2:27 3 INT L
  Stanford 5:27 5 TD (Grigsby 57 yard run) W
  ASU 2:02 tied 3-and-out (followed by muffed punt) W
  USC 7:13 3 TD W
2010 Iowa 8:12 tied TD W
  Cal 2:37 6 TD W
  ASU 2:59 6 TD L

Foles has now engineered a touchdown drive the last four times he’s gotten the ball in the 4th quarter with a chance to take the lead. It’s the stuff of legend.

Near legend, anyway.

That last one is still hard to believe. Down six, score a TD, lose. I will be 97 years old and eating Thanksgiving dinner through a straw and I will still shake my head every time I think of that kick.

Alex Zendejas has missed three field goals this year. He has now missed five extra points.

Mike Stoops’ rivalry legacy also took a hit when that kick hit A.J. Simmons. The UA coach is now 3-4 against the team from Tempe while Dennis Erickson evened his record against Arizona to 2-2. Why is that significant? Check out this list:

ASU coaches with a winning record against Arizona

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Coach Record vs. UA Years
Larry Siemering 1-0 1951
Dan Devine 2-1 1955-‘57
Frank Kush 16-5 1958-‘78
Dirk Koetter 4-2 2001-‘06

That’s it. If Erickson wins again next year to get above .500 it means two of the three Sun Devil coaches who had the most success facing the Wildcats did so against Mike Stoops.

Stoops will want to do all he can to get his clutch quarterback to return for his senior year.

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Yes, I re-watched the entire ASU game so you never, ever have to.

After the Devils’ first shanked punt ESPN’s Rece Davis said, “That might be the shortest punt in the history of the sport.” That record lasted one series as the next punt was Zendejas’ zero-yarder.

Did you lose count of the Wildcats’ dropped interceptions? There were three by my count. Any time a defender touches the ball the announcer says it was “almost intercepted” but the UA DBs got both hands on three different passes only to let them fall to the turf – Adam Hall once and Joe Perkins twice. The Cats have no chance against Oklahoma State without forcing some turnovers.

In the 3rd quarter Mike Stoops declined an 8-yard holding penalty (half the distance to the goal) to set up a 3rd-and-7 instead. To the surprise of no one ASU picked up the first down on the next play. Besides a turnover or a sack a holding penalty is the best thing that can happen to a defense. Never give them up unless it’s already 3rd down and at least a dozen.

The turning point (that set up the final turning point) was the Greg Nwoko fumble. The Cats had scored two touchdowns in the 3rd quarter to take the lead. On their first possession of the 4th quarter they were at midfield and on the move. Get the score to 21-9 (sorry, 20-9), make Brock Osweiler drive the length of the field and you have to like your chances.

Foles’ final throw was ruled backwards so David Douglas’ second TD was officially a run. It kept Foles from equaling his career high in touchdown passes in a game (4) and kept him from setting a new single-season best of 20 scoring throws.

The next play kept him from breaking the losing streak. And from becoming a legend.

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Scott Terrell thinks a #8 jersey would look great in the Red Zone next year. Look for more fashion tips on Facebook and Twitter.