Calm down Sun Devil Nation, the real tests are coming up

Calm down Sun Devil Nation, the real tests are coming up

Credit: Getty Images

STANFORD, CA - SEPTEMBER 21: Head coach Todd Graham of the Arizona State Sun Devils walks on the field after being defeated by the Stanford Cardinal 42-28 at Stanford Stadium on September 21, 2013 in Stanford, California. (Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images)

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by Brad Denny

azfamily.com

Posted on September 22, 2013 at 2:54 AM

Updated Sunday, Sep 22 at 3:11 AM

Raise your hand if you though ASU would beat Stanford. 

Sure, they could do it. Like many good-but-not-great teams, the Sun Devils possess the ability to engineer a major upset on any given Saturday—given a fair bit of luck on their side. 

But to truly think that they would

No, in all likelihood and honesty, you didn't think so. Neither did I. So put your hand down. 

As we resoundingly saw on Saturday, ASU didn't pull off the upset. They didn't come close. Honestly, there's really no shame in that. 

There may be, at most, a half dozen teams that could go to Palo Alto and feel confident about coming back with a win. ASU is not one of those teams. At least not yet. 

During and after ASU's 42-28 loss, Sun Devil Nation got caught up in one of the mood swings that have come to define the fanbase. 

All of the positivity, hype, and excitement that ASU fans had heading into the game immediately gave way to choruses of "same ol' Devils", the season is lost, and every other variety of sky-is-falling rhetoric that is plastered all over social media, message boards, and bar stools. Blah blah blah. 

Yes, the Stanford loss was awful. Yes, there are more than enough reasons for concern moving forward. And yes, the Cardinal are in an entirely different class of teams that ASU can only dream about becoming, for now. 

But let's be real here. Take a moment to think about where things stand as of now.

Most every person who follows this program—fan, media member, impartial observer—truly believed that ASU's best case scenario after three games would be 2-1. 

ASU is currently 2-1. 

Perspective is a valuable commodity, especially in college football.

Yes, ASU began this year with eyes on the Rose Bowl, but really, it was and is about taking the Pac-12 South crown away from UCLA. The latter is the real focus and goal for this team, for if they can't do that, all larger goals are moot.

The Sun Devils' true and most important tests are still upcoming. The games and challenges that will define the 2013 team lie ahead in the form of the USC Trojans and Notre Dame. They will come during critical South division battles against the Bruins and Arizona, and an inter-division tilt against Washington.

During the last two years, a bad loss derailed a promising season for ASU. In 2011, it was the infamous "3rd and 29" loss to UCLA. Last year, it was the crushing defeat against Oregon. In both instances, those games sent the Sun Devils on a prolonged losing streak.

Is this team different? Can they put this loss behind them? 

We'll soon have our answer.

We've seen significant evidence that ASU is, but the only facts that matter will be the Ws after USC and Notre Dame. Each team has shown that they are eminently beatable.

Should the Sun Devils come out with a strong showing and get a win against the Trojans, we will know that this is not the "same ol' Devils". We'll know that they can indeed be a major player in the South. With how the schedule lays out, they can certainly be 5-1 or 4-2 heading into the showdown with Washington on October 19.

But first things first. Time to get the mind right, for players and fans alike.

While this past Saturday was certainly a low point for ASU football, it was in no way an end or any indication that the hopes for the year or the coaching staff are extinguished. It was merely a thumping delivered at the hands of one of the best football teams in America.

Put the Cardinal in the rear view mirror. Focus on USC. Prepare for the Trojans. Get the conference record to .500. 

There's a lot of football left, and a lot of games that ASU should win.

 

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