Beating Arizona State on Friday wouldn’t erase the fact that this season has been disappointing, but it would certainly change the feeling going into the off-season.
“I think it would certainly help because it is the biggest game on our schedule and the seniors’ last home game; it’s a game that’s really important to our fans,” Rich Rodriguez said.
“It’s not going to erase the (season), but at least for a moment it’s going to make me feel good. I think both teams will play hard, because everybody is going to play hard in a rivalry game. You have to play hard and play well; that’s going to be the key. ”
The importance of the rivalry isn’t lost on the players.
“This is the biggest game of the year,” offensive lineman Layth Friekh said. “Everybody is giving it all they got. This is our last game and against our rival.
“Everyone is going to give it everything they have. There is a lot of confidence in our guys and in the preparation for this game. I know everyone wants to win this one.”
For defensive lineman Sani Fuimaono, Friday’s game will be his last in an Arizona uniform.
“It would mean everything for our seniors, our program and for our fans, especially for our coaches who have put so much time into preparation for this season,” he said.
“Although this season hasn’t been what we expected and hoped for, this is the biggest game on our calendar every year. Finishing the year with a win against ASU would mean everything because we’re not bowl eligible. They need one more win to go to a bowl, so if we can’t go, they shouldn’t either.”
When Arizona gets ready to take the field on Friday, Fuimaono is confident about what his message will be.
“I usually speak with whatever comes to me in the spur of the moment,” he said. “I don’t want to sound cliché or cheesy, but I would tell the team to ‘Bear Down’, just like John (Salmon) said.
"I would say to ‘Bear Down’ and give it everything you got. For us seniors, it is our last game together as a team. Just give it everything you have and ‘bear down’.”