Each week, NCAA.com takes you … ahh stop it, you know the drill.
It’s Ultimate Road Trip time and this Halloween weekend you’re in for some pretty extreme trick-or-treating through the Grand Canyon State.
One of the spookier things you’ll realize at this point in the college football season is that the winner of the Pac-12 South — a conference where UCLA and USC still exist — will most likely be from the state of Arizona or Utah.
The three-team race probably will lose at least one participant this weekend when No. 17 Utah — a team that’s kicker and punter is so good, they never bothered to hire a special teams coach — travels to Tempe, Arizona to take on the No. 14 Sun Devils.
Arizona State being in the thick of things toward the end of the season doesn’t surprise anyone. But Arizona State showing a wayward traveler a good time — even on a weekend that’s not both Halloween and Homecoming — that’s not going to shock anyone either.
The convergence on Tempe this Halloween weekend will take you to Tucson, Phoenix and one of the most iconic natural landmarks in the entire country.
If you’re coming to Tempe from the Texas-New Mexico-actual Mexico area, you’ll come across Tucson. Tucson is a nice place to spend Halloween with your family. There’s a Halloween Spooktacular at the Children’s Museum, a Spooky Prom at the Rialto Theater and a Beetlejuice special at the Loft. (For you kids and football fans that don’t know Beetlejuice, he’s kind of like a cross between a demon and a referee. Scary stuff … referees.)
A cool place to see in Tucson is Main Gate Square, a dining and shopping center, and a great place the hang out at night. (Pay no attention to the Arizona Wildcat fans that surround you in Tucson. Main Gate Square is on University Avenue; safe to say the UofA campus is close enough for a visit. If you go, do it quickly but don’t mention it to anyone when you get to Tempe.)
Coming from the opposite direction, there’s something everyone should see once in their life.
— Grand Canyon NPS (@GrandCanyonNPS) October 19, 2014
The Grand Canyon is just short of four hours north of Tempe, and if you’re coming from that direction it may very well be on your way. I’d tell you what to do at the Grand Canyon, but all you really need to do is look at it. It’s … it’s … well, as an English poet named Ted Hughes once described the beauty of the Grand Canyon with, “Some word — from before this translation.” While a more contemporary “poet,” Ron Swanson had a similar sentiment. Make the time to go to the Grand Canyon; I’m sure there are many Americans that have it on their bucket list who would love to be behind the wheel of your car this weekend.
If the Canyon is on your way to Tempe, keep heading south and before you get to the ASU campus, you’ll hit Phoenix, the capital of Arizona.
To carry out the remainder of your day, one of the cool places to go in Phoenix is the Arizona Science Center downtown. It has permanent exhibits in nature and technology, an IMAX theater and the featured exhibit follows the path of geologists and other explorers that have gone to the edge of the earth in the polar ice caps to the heart of the rain forests.
You’ve now explored plenty of natural art, but the good places to soak up some culture in Phoenix can be found on Roosevelt Row.
There’s plenty more to do in Phoenix, but don’t get lost because you have to be in Tempe on Saturday.
It doesn’t get more fun on a college campus than at Arizona State. On game days the tailgates line the streets and campus perimeter. University Drive up to Tempe Town Lake, from Camp Fargo to the Victory Bell, will be filled with the Sun Devils faithful. It’s also homecoming so expect to see Arizona State’s “A” game on the field and at the tailgates.
— Judy McCord (@JudyMcCord) October 16, 2014
Utah isn’t usually the type of name to get people overly excited, but these are smart football fans — they know this is an important game and this town with be buzzing all weekend.
Arizona State has a tradition similar to the Tiger Walk in Missouri or the Elephant Stomp in Alabama, and it’s called the Devil Walk. They also have the “Lantern Walk,” taking place the Friday night before Homecoming where Tempe is lit by lanterns carried by students, faculty and alumni making the march up to the “A.”
While you’re at the game you’ll notice that when the players enter the field they do it through the Tillman Tunnel. This is an homage to former Sun Devil and Arizona Cardinal Pat Tillman.
A photo posted by handlebaraz (@handlebaraz) on
After the game, the places to be are on Mill Avenue. Gringo Star, The Handlebar, School of Rock. Yes we are now getting back into our usual rhythm; these are college gathering holes and places for postgame celebration. Just go for a walk anywhere on campus and you’ll hear the sounds of Mill Avenue coming from the west side.
This will conclude your Week 10 road trip to Tempe. Have fun, be safe and Happy Halloween. Join us next week when the Ultimate Road Trip goes to Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium.