Sunday, September 28, 2008

ASU/Cal will Make or Break 2008

Before this season started, the question, "When is ASU's most important game of 2008?" was bandied about among fans, on message boards and on talk radio. The two most popular answers, without hesitation, were Georgia and at USC.

And why not? Before the season began, everyone, including this fine blog, expected ASU to be consistently in the top 15. However, I raised a lot of eyebrows with my answer to that question.

Without a beat, I kept telling people that I thought the Cal game on October 4 was this team's most important game. And I still think it is.

In terms of national attention and our best chance to get maximum exposure to voters and casual fans, national TV games against Georgia are huge. In terms of knowing out conference standing, our game against Southern Cal is always big.

But based on when this Cal game is scheduled, I firmly thought that the game in Berkeley would prove to be Arizona State's most important game.

Most of us thought the Sun Devils would be 3-1 going into this Saturday's game and not-so-privately boasted about being 4-0. Well, that's obviously far from the case. The Devils are 2-2 after a flat loss to the Bulldogs and are still experiencing the dull ache from the punch to the mouth that was UNLV.

So, my thoughts going into California have consistently been one of these two rationales:

A) We had just lost to Georgia and needed to reestablish our confidence
B) We had just somehow beaten Georgia and needed to prove that the upset wasn't a fluke

Obviously, it was situation A that has panned out with the added twist being the 25 1/2 point outright upset by the Rebels three weeks ago. Both of those reasons, whichever one was the case after September 20, made me believe that there was no more important game on the 2008 schedule than the game at Memorial Stadium this Saturday.

Win, and ASU gets to 3-2 and gets a much needed shot in the arm before the trip to Los Angeles. It breaks ASU's first losing streak since 2006 and can go a long way to prove the Devils' mettle on the road, especially in the state of California, where ASU has exactly one win since 2001.

The consequences of losing are obvious. The Devils drop to under .500 and will most likely have zero belief that they can go into the Coliseum and knock off an all-of-a-sudden vulnerable (maybe? maybe not?) USC team. Plus, after USC, Oregon comes to town, a program while very much different on paper in 2008 yet the Sun Devils have been unable to beat since 2004. That brings about the possibility of the Sun Devils being 2-5 going into another bye week.



See what I mean now? This weekend is single most important one of the season for Arizona State, and it's definitely in their best interests to come out flying against California...or else 2008 might be over before they even take on the Trojans.

Photo Credit: ESPN

1 comment:

willie56 said...

They can beat cal.Best is out for this game.If they their finished.Keegan has to play to keep Cal guessing.