ASU Sparky helmets

The Territorial Cup game belongs on the day after Thanksgiving. Photo by Wildcat Universe

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Counting blessings. Seeing family. I watched two Arizona basketball games and went to a UA volleyball match. It was a really good holiday weekend. But something was missing.

Thanksgiving isn’t 100% Thanksgiving without the Territorial Cup football game. It needs to come back. And, good news, Wildcats and Sun Devils, there’s an easy way to make sure it never leaves again.

Why did Arizona State have to finish the regular season in Berkeley? Why did Arizona play 12 straight weeks without a bye only to sit around idle over the holiday? The problem, as you have probably heard, is Stanford and USC take turns finishing the season against Notre Dame. This year the Cardinal played the Irish this past weekend instead of Cal so the Bears had to play ASU and Arizona didn’t have anybody to play.

Last year the Trojans played Notre Dame on Thanksgiving weekend so UCLA played Stanford which left Cal playing BYU. That last school is the key to setting things right.

I was doing my annual complaining about the Notre Dame games on Twitter…

…when I got this reply:

You, sir, are even more of a genius that you thought. BYU isn’t half the solution; the Cougars are the entire solution. If you bring back the Utah-BYU Holy War and put it at the end of the season it frees up Colorado to play the team without a rivalry partner due to the Notre Dame game.

This year the Buffaloes would have played Cal. Last year CU would have played UCLA. The Territorial Cup, Apple Cup and Civil War would have been left alone.

Yes, it would mean Utah concludes Pac-12 play a week early every year. But have you seen how many SEC teams end their season with a non-conference game?

Yes, Colorado wouldn’t have a regular rivalry game but the Buffs and Utes aren’t rivals now. Colorado’s old Big 12 rival was Nebraska and CU still has its annual early-season game with Colorado State.

Ideally the Big Game would be moved to Thanksgiving weekend in even years like all the other rivalry games across the country. But if Stanford and Cal absolutely refuse to play each other over the holiday they can schedule their own non-conference games that weekend or take the 13th-week bye. Ten schools shouldn’t have to sacrifice decades of tradition for Stanford’s 17-year-old Notre Dame “tradition.”

So USC and Stanford get to keep playing Notre Dame, UCLA and Cal get to finish with a Pac-12 team every year, Colorado gets a more desirable opponent to end the season and, again, the Territorial Cup, Apple Cup and Civil War are kept intact forever.

The only schools giving up something are Stanford and Cal with the Thanksgiving thing. Even if the L.A. schools join with their California brethren in protest there are eight schools that need to band together and tell the Golden State to stop messing with their rivalry games.

Bring back the Holy War. Get the Territorial Cup game back on the day after Thanksgiving where it belongs.

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