TEMPE, Ariz. -- The year did not end the way anyone had hoped, but Arizona State still finds themselves in some favorable spots to end the 2013 season.
In the final polls of the year, ASU came in ranked 20th in both the AP and Coaches Poll. This marks the first time that the Sun Devils have ended a season ranked since 2007, when they ended 16th in the AP and 13th in the Coaches.
However, the day didn't start with ASU as a member of the top 20 in the AP Poll.
Following the initial count of the AP ballots last night, the Sun Devils were 21st, behind Notre Dame. On Tuesday afternoon, ESPN's Chris Fowler corrected his earlier mistake of swapping ASU and Fresno State. Upon his correction, the Sun Devils had just enough points to eek past the Fighting Irish.
AP ballot mixup: my #23 is #ASU. Apparently misunderstood on deadline over the phone from post-BCS bedlam. No impact on rankings. Sorry.— Chris Fowler (@cbfowler) January 7, 2014
Historically, 2013 marks the 17th time in history ASU ends ranked in the AP Poll and the 15th time they have finished ranked in the Coaches Poll. ASU's best ever finish was in 1975, when they ended the year ranked No. 2 in both polls, and the program has seven seasons in which they finished in the top 10.
On the year, ASU beat four teams that finished in the AP's Top 25: UCLA (16th), USC (19th), Wisconsin (22nd) and Washington (25th). Three of the Sun Devils' four losses on the year came to ranked teams, with a pair of losses to No. 11 Stanford and one to No. 21 Notre Dame.
The Pac-12 placed half of the conference in the final AP Poll: Oregon (9th), Stanford, UCLA, USC, ASU, and Washington.
The placement of both UCLA and USC ahead of ASU has already drawn the ire of Sun Devil fans. ASU blew out USC 62-41 at home in September, and then beat UCLA 38-33 on the road to secure the Pac-12 South division championship on Nov. 23.
Regardless of the order, the finish by ASU and the Pac-12, along with a large amount of returning talent, figures to result in a strong west coast presence in the 2014 preseason polls later this summer.
In fact, ESPN has the Sun Devils ranked 22nd in their "way too early" Top 25 which was released shortly after Monday's BCS national championship game. Even better, Paul Myerberg of USA Today has ASU 13th in his early rankings.
However, it's not where you start but where you finish that matters. Hurry back, college football. You are missed.