TUCSON -- Interim coach Tim Kish is realistic enough to know his days associated with Arizona football are numbered. After four years, this will be his final Arizona-Arizona State rivalry game.
The memories are both good and bad. But a victory on Saturday?
"It would mean I would be very happy for the team, extremely happy for the town and university," Kish said.
"There's a pride about that in this town, there's going to be a pride about that in the administration and the university and student body. It goes across the board, not just the team, that's critical."
The question is whether Arizona can get it done. Before the season started it seemed possible, arguably favorable. But no sooner could you say: Oklahoma State, Stanford, Oregon and Southern California and it was all but over. Eventually, it was for Mike Stoops, who was fired after the Oregon State game on Oct. 8.
As is sometimes the case, Arizona regrouped found a sense of purpose and beat UCLA. It's been downhill ever since. Arizona is riding a three-game losing streak and headed to one of its worst records in a decade, currently sitting at 2-8 overall and at the bottom of the Pac-12 Conference South at 1-7.
Understandably, a victory against the also-struggling Sun Devils would be a welcome relief, especially when doubts about how hard your team is playing rather than how good they are surface. Such is life at Arizona, a season removed from going to its third consecutive bowl game, and yet stuck in a rut that seems like you can't escape.
Kish said he has "no idea" why some players seemingly didn't give great effort last Saturday, in a humbling 48-29 loss to Colorado. He also knows losing doesn't bring sunshine or enthusiasm every day. Predictable? Of course, Kish said, but "I never want to see it coming."
He did add, "I'd say it's a common occurrence when things aren't going your way sometimes. Hopefully we have a bunch of competitors on this team. I believe we do. I'm not sold (poor play) is across the board right now."
What's worse is Arizona will have to do it with a depleted defense that's been questionable all season. On Monday, Kish gave a laundry list of problems. And he didn't even get into the tackling or lack there of.
He spoke of injuries. Could it get any worse for a team that's 81st against the run and 107th against the pass?
Defensive end C.J. Parish is listed as doubtful because of an ankle injury. He didn't play last week against Colorado.
Defensive tackle Justin Washington, too, is doubtful because of a MCL sprain. He also didn't play last weekend. Fellow defensive tackle Jowyn Ward is doubtful with an ankle sprain. He was Washington's replacement against Colorado.
Sione Tuihalamaka, another defensive tackle, is doubtful after leaving the Colorado game with an infected elbow.
Senior cornerback Trevin Wade is probable after missing last week's game with a leg injury. And Dan Buckner is also probable as he continues to try to play through a shoulder injury.
Kish hinted a change in the defense may be in order, yet he offered no specifics.
"We're just going to play the guys that prepare the hardest this week, and we'll make the decision at the end of the week as to who goes, Kish said.
He added he definitely wanted to make some moves defensively. Anything to get the players' attention. After all, what's been happening the last few weeks hasn't worked.
And, if it's more of the same, there's no way Arizona wins this rivalry game.