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With its main goals out of reach, ASU aims for bowl eligibility

Arizona State's Mike Bercovici warms up prior to an NCAA college football game against Oregon, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

TEMPE, Ariz. — What now?

Where do the Arizona State Sun Devils go from here?

The simple answer is Pullman for an afternoon kick against Washington State on Saturday.

However, a more thought-provoking response is required now that the Sun Devils are a .500 team after losing to Oregon in triple overtime.

“As a team, we haven’t gotten it done,” head coach Todd Graham said at his weekly press conference Monday.

Consider the following:

*Ranked preseason No. 15, ASU, dropped its opener to unranked Texas A&M

*Two uninspiring performances against lesser opponents followed and preceded a 28-point beat down by USC, at home

*Finally a complete effort at UCLA, and the Sun Devils thrust themselves back in the Pac-12 conversation

*The talk ended abruptly with back-to-back defeats to Utah and Oregon, the first consecutive regular season losses since 2013

At 4-4 and 2-3 in conference play, the best Arizona State can hope for now is a mid-tier bowl game invitation.

“Obviously, we’re not sitting in the same situation that we thought obviously in the beginning of the season.  That’s the beautiful part about football is that you win or you lose,” quarterback Mike Bercovici said. “So, I think right now what we have is that we have a team that plays for the person next to them.  So, it’s not about whether we’re 8-0 right now or whatever the case may be, it’s about that in 30 years from now am I going to be able to look to the person next me and tell them that I put everything out on that football field for them to win; and I think that’s what makes our unit special.”

To become bowl eligible, ASU needs at least two wins over the next four Saturdays, beginning this week against surprising Washington State (5-3, 3-2).

Home games versus Washington and Arizona follow and then a trip to Cal to close out the regular season on Nov. 28.

So much more was expected from the 2015 Sun Devils.

Not only was there anticipation of a Pac-12 Championship, but inclusion in the College Football Playoff with a shot at a National Championship.

That’s all gone now.

“You got to pick yourself up and go on; and that’s what our guys will do.  Our guys have got great character. They’re going to play hard,” Graham said.

Bercovici agreed.

Despite the sting of the Oregon defeat and disappointment surrounding the season as a whole, players won’t lose focus.

“That’s something that you don’t got to worry about with this unit,” the QB said.  “I mean, regardless of the win-loss column, we have a team that is full of leadership, full of guys that have stuck around here for a purpose.  They have a lot of investment in this program.  Going into these last four football games — obviously, we’re not looking past one or another, but it’s going to be an exciting run to the finish line.”

Though not its number-one goal, Arizona State would make school history with a postseason appearance.

Never before have the Sun Devils played in five straight bowl games, something still on the table to accomplish this season.

“There’s still a lot for these guys to play for,” Graham said.  “These guys have been a part of a pretty special time here.  These seniors are really important, so we’ve talked a lot about that.  But these guys will go and play.  I don’t have any doubt on how they’ll go and play.”

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