Rich Rodriguez's life has been a series of rivalry games.
As a football and basketball star at Farmington (W.Va.) North Marion High School, he battled the Fairmont Senior High Polar Bears. As a collegian - and later coach - at West Virginia, he faced Pitt in a game called, fittingly, "The Backyard Brawl."
And as the head coach at Michigan, Rodriguez led the Wolverines in memorable battles with Ohio State.
So what makes Friday's Territorial Cup battle between the Arizona Wildcats and Arizona State stand out?
It's about proximity, Rodriguez said - and prestige.
"What makes this so unique is that it's in-conference and in-state," the Wildcats' first-year coach said Monday. "We hear it all the time. People say, 'If you're going to win just one game, make sure it's the ASU game, and then we'll be happy.' Well, no, I don't think you will be. I think it'll make them less mad, though, if that's the one game you win.
"It's not a revelation to say, 'Oh, this is a big game.' … Sure it is."
And this time, the winner gets more than in-state pride. Arizona (7-4, 4-4 Pac-12) can improve its bowl standing and move up from No. 24 in the latest Bowl Championship Series standings with a win over ASU Friday night at Arizona Stadium. The Sun Devils (6-5, 4-4) can jump the Wildcats in the Pac-12 South standings with a victory.
Add in the usual late-season dramatics - Friday is Senior Night, and ASU is still smarting over last season's 31-27 loss to UA in Tempe - and the teams' final regular-season game should be a good one.
Quarterback Matt Scott called it the biggest game of the year.
"I think I speak for any senior that's come through here when I tell you that I want to beat ASU more than any other team on our schedule," he said.
Rivalry games aren't soon forgotten.
Asked Monday to rattle off his favorite rivalries, Rodriguez referenced his time at tiny Glenville (W.Va) State and a loss to the hated Fairmont State Fighting Falcons. There was no trophy, he said, but meaty rewards nonetheless.
"If we lost, we wouldn't stop at McDonald's," he said. "If we'd win, I've give them a meal."
Arizona is "on the radar" of the Las Vegas Bowl's selection committee, the game's executive director said Monday.
But Dan Hanneke warned that there's still plenty to be decided heading into the final week of the regular season. In fact, the Pac-12's bowl partners aren't expected to announce their choices until Dec. 2.
But predictions - and circumstances - can change. At issue is the number of Pac-12 teams playing in BCS bowl games.
If the conference lands sends two to the games, then lower-ranked teams - like Arizona - could sneak into a game like the Las Vegas Bowl. The game, now in its 22nd year, pits the Mountain West's winner (or No. 1 choice) against the Pac-12's fifth pick.
Depending on what happens with the BCS, Las Vegas could choose between USC, Washington, Arizona or Arizona State.
"Certainly, the Arizona-ASU game is going to be something we're watching," Hanneke said. "We want to do what's best for the game or the city. Arizona travels great; they're always a good game and a good program."
Banged-up Carey 'better'
Ka'Deem Carey was slowed by a bruised collarbone and a handful of other aches and pains in Saturday's win over Utah, and likely won't be 100 percent for the Territorial Cup game.
Not that it's going to stop him.
"It's just tweaks. Later on in the season, you're going to have to wear a little more tape - especially at the running back position," Carey said. "I'm getting treatment and getting better. I'm trying to get to 100 percent for this game."
After all, there are records to be broken.
With 18 yards in Friday's game, Carey - who has already ran for a nation-leading 1,585 yards this season - would surpass Trung Canidate for the most single-season rushing yards in program history. He can also, with three touchdowns, break Art Luppino's 58-year-old record for most rushing scores (21) in a season.
Carey isn't the only Wildcat who's battling nagging injuries. Tra'Mayne Bondurant left last week's game with an injury, and is questionable to play Saturday. Guard Chris Putton has been out with a concussion, and safety Jourdon Grandon has been limited because of a similar injury.
Cornerback Jonathan Mc-Knight has played sparingly over the last five games because of ongoing, nagging injuries.
Brother vs. brother
Friday's rivalry game will be personal for Arizona nose tackle Tevin Hood: His younger brother, Jaxon, is one of the Sun Devils' most productive defensive linemen.
The Hood family is already taking sides.
"My dad roots for the U of A - he's from Tucson - and my youngest two brothers, too," he said. "Other than that, I think everybody's rooting for ASU."
Tevin won't take it personally. The Hoods grew up in the Phoenix area, and most of their family lives nearby. Plus, Friday's game will mark a first: Tevin and Jaxon have never played on the same field before, either as opponents or teammates.
Tevin said Monday that he'll talk about the game with his brother, but only within reason.
"I won't go out of my way to say anything," he said, "but I'll let him know what the deal is."
• UA wide receiver Dan Buckner was limited in practice Monday because of an apparent leg injury. If Buckner is unable to play Friday, the Wildcats could turn to Garic Wharton or Tyler Slavin.
"We've all got to step up," Wharton said. "We've all gotta pull the rope."
• Carey, on Arizona's red helmets, which will make their debut Friday: "I love 'em. I think it's great that we get to wear those things out here against ASU. It brings that much more to the rivalry."
• Who: Arizona State (6-5, 4-4) at Arizona (7-4, 4-4)
• When: 8 p.m. Friday
• TV: ESPN
• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)