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Arizona State’s night to live up to the hype

The night finally arrived.

The night for Arizona State to live up — or down — to the hype that has
been placed upon them.

Fair or not, since last season ended with their win in Tucson over rival
Arizona, it has always been about “wait until next year.”

Brock Osweiler had shown promise. The skill positions were returning fast –
– extremely fast. The defense is full of talent.

The team has finished a practice with a “BCS” chant. They talked a bit about
the Sugar Bowl at their media day.

Fan expectations are high. Media members have marked them as the team
that could make a serious run after not going to a bowl last year and
starting this season outside the AP Top 25.

If you go by wins and losses — and you should — they lived up to the
hype for this one night. The Sun Devils defeated the Missouri Tigers 37-30
in overtime.

This was the night they had to. A home loss on national television in front
of a near capacity crowd in the highly promoted “Blackout” atmosphere
would have been more than just one loss.

This was nowhere near a “pretty” win, but in the end it was a win.

Arizona State had to beat Missouri to gain credibility and show everyone
they can be looked at as a team that moved on from a bowl-less season
full of heartbreak and close losses — sans the Arizona game.

They needed to prove to themselves they could beat a formidable
opponent. It was their first win over a ranked team since 2007 —
Erickson’s first year in Tempe and the year they won 10 games and went to
the Holiday Bowl.

This game was talked about as Arizona State’s “measuring stick” for the
season. It was amplified when they announced it would be a “Blackout” and
were hoping for a sellout.

For the game itself the Sun Devils started off fast with four of their five
drives in the first half resulting in scores or scoring chances (a missed field
goal was how their first drive ended).

Less than a minute into the fourth quarter they took a 30-16 lead and
looked every bit the hype. It takes 60 minutes to win a football game and
not 46.

A slew of penalties, a muffed punt and two bad possessions tied in with
two Missouri touchdowns and you could see it on the fans’ faces, “here we
go again.” Games like this were lost way too often by this team in 2010.

Friday night ended differently. The Sun Devils went to overtime and did
what they had to do.

Is this a sign of things to come?

Only time will tell. They lived up to the hype in the most important game of
their season. Now, next Saturday at Illinois is the most important. This big
win against a ranked Missouri team won’t feel as sweet if the momentum
isn’t carried on to another week.