Updated Sep 27, 2012 - 5:52 pm
ASU faces biggest challenge to date at Cal
Why shouldn't they be? Under first-year head coach Todd Graham, the Devils are off to a 3-1 start and are playing a disciplined brand of football.
Their opponent this week, the California Golden Bears, are in a much different place. Cal is 1-3 after consecutive losses to Ohio State and USC and in desperate need of a win for embattled head coach Jeff Tedford.
Despite all the turmoil, the Sun Devils know that Cal is loaded with talent and capable of putting it all together at any time.
"Their skill people are really, really good," Graham said Thursday following practice. "Their running backs -- (Brendan) Bigelow is dynamic and obviously (Keenan) Allen, their wide receiver, is as good as their is."
The Bears average 411 yards and 27 points per game, which both have them in the middle of the pack in the national rankings, but Graham is concerned about Cal's big play ability.
"I guess that's the thing that impresses me the most -- they've got so many players at running back and receiver that can take the ball to the house, and I don't think we've played against anybody that has that to this point."
Talent aside, the Sun Devils haven't won in Berkeley since 1997 -- a fact that everybody associated with the program has been bludgeoned with leading into the game. Graham and his players are not concerned with that history, but are very aware just how big this game is for the program.
"It'd be huge, we haven't beaten those guys in a while and I think it's going to help us stay in the driver's seat right now for the Pac-12 South," senior offensive lineman Evan Finkenberg said.
Arizona Sports' Craig Grialou contributed to this report
- Arizona State accepts invitation to play in 2013 Holiday Bowl against Texas Tech
- Some things are more disappointing than Arizona State's loss to Stanford
- Arizona State dips in national polls after loss to Stanford in Pac-12 Championship
- Fork Report: Devils dominated in Pac-12 Championship Game
- Saturday's loss certainly hurts, but for ASU, this is the ground floor
- Glenn Parker, Pac-12 Network football analyst - Friday December 6Glenn Parker previews the Pac-12 Championship game.
- Joe Schad, ESPN college football reporter - Friday December 6A national perspective on the ASU-Stanford Pac 12 Championship Game
- J.R. Redmond, former ASU running back - Friday December 6Redmond discussed the similarities between the 96 ASU team and this year's edition.
- Bickley Blast - Friday December 6Setting the stage for the ASU-Stanford Pac 12 Championship Game.
- Jean Boyd, ASU Associate AD - Friday December 6Boyd explains the importance of ASU football's "Rock Walk" tradition