Todd Graham has a plan to put the Arizona State Sun Devils on the college football map and he has started to do it by going out and playing top competition in non-conference play. This season, ASU took on the Wisconsin Badgers (defending Big Ten champs) and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (BCS National Championship game participants) in addition to their rigorous Pac-12 schedule. It’s a strategy that gets the ASU brand out into the public eye and helps the Sun Devils recruit on a national level. It’s also a strategy they plan to keep rolling with after announcing they will open the 2015 season against the Texas A&M Aggies in Reliant Stadium in Houston.
The game will be the third edition of the Texas Kickoff which started this season with the Oklahoma State Cowboys beating the Mississippi State Bulldogs 21-3 and will continue next season with the LSU Tigers scheduled to take on the Wisconsin Badgers. This event is looking to pair up quality teams for a marquee matchup to kick off the season and have a pair of hot programs on the rise that should provide plenty of fireworks when they face off in 2015.
Texas A&M has splashed onto the national scene since joining the SEC last season and going 11-2 with a huge win over the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa and a Heisman Trophy for then-freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel. Kevin Sumlin is building up A&M as a contender in the SEC West and arguably the premier team in the state of Texas. They have risen quickly in the college football landscape in the last two seasons and will be in a position to make a run possibly at the SEC title and a spot in the college football playoff by 2015.
Arizona State, meanwhile, is making their own push towards national relevancy. Graham has instilled a new-found mental toughness into the program that has the Sun Devils in control of the Pac-12 South race this season with an opportunity to clinch their spot in the Pac-12 title game this weekend against the UCLA Bruins. As they continue to recruit well within the state of Arizona and into California and Texas (including the Houston area), the sky is the limit for the potential of this ASU program in the near future.
By 2015, both teams should be ready to take the next step towards becoming national brands with legitimate talent to get into the national title conversation. Arizona State and Texas A&M will get the 2015 season off to an explosive start as both teams look to break out as national powers.