This Friday night the Missouri Tigers will play the Arizona State Sun Devils in Tempe in arguably the biggest ASU football game in recent memory.
Last season can be described as a big disappointment for ASU. A season marred by close losses and bad penalties began with a tough loss to Wisconsin early in the year. ASU was an underdog going into Camp Randall stadium, but the Sun Devils came to play and gave the Badgers all they could handle. ASU scored a touchdown late in the game, but a blocked extra point cost the Sun Devils the chance to tie. From this point on, the Sun Devils had no swag; no confidence.
That forgetful season has given way to a new found confidence in Tempe. A team returning a number of key starters. A team with a new found confidence. The Sun Devils signed a contract with Nike during the offseason, and received a total rebranding. Gone is Sparky on the helmet, and in his place in a new stylized pitchfork. Also added were new jerseys, and the addition of the black jersey; but we will get to that later.
All of the sudden the Sun Devils became a popular pick to win the Pac – 12 south, and were garnering national attention. The level of anticipation and expectation quickly sky rocketed.
The biggest difference this year however, is that the Sun Devils expect to win. In years past, fans and players didn’t know what to expect. This year, both expect big things.
The season began this past Thursday with a 48-14 drubbing of UC Davis at home. While the Sun Devils did look good on the field, especially their running game, this wasn’t a true test of where this team is at. UC Davis isn’t exactly a great football team.
This week, however, will show everyone what the Sun Devils are working with. When the Tigers and Sun Devils take the field this Friday, the season actually begins. Remember when I mentioned how ASU got new black jerseys? Well this Friday will be the first time they wear them, and they expect the entire stadium to join them as they have named this game a black out. Remember when I said the Sun Devils were gaining national attention? Well ESPN will be there on Friday to broadcast the game.
Last year, ASU was at a crossroad in their season when they traveled to Wisconsin. If they beat Wisconsin they probably become ranked and are potentially propelled to a big season, however they lost and the team crumbled. This year, when the Sun Devils take on the Tigers, they are at the same crossroad. A loss to Missouri and the Sun Devils will more than likely suffer the same fate as last year. However, a win would send ASU into their first road contest against Illinois with an incredible amount of confidence and maybe send the Sun Devils onto a big year.
If there is one thing this first week of college football has shown us it is this: the Pac – 12 is anybody’s to win. Oregon showed they had weaknesses, Utah had trouble with Montana State, and Oregon State lost to Sacramento State. The Stanford Cardinal looked really good in their 57-3 win over San Jose State, but ASU doesn’t have to play them during the regular season.
This Friday in Tempe will be a turning point in this season for ASU. The stadium will be packed with screaming fans adorned in black, and ESPN will allow the whole country to see this Sun Devil team. ASU can silence their doubters and exercise their demons with a win over the Tigers.