Last week, the big talk locally was the golden opportunity the Arizona State Sun Devils had to make a national statement with a win or a good showing against the second-ranked Oregon Ducks.
We know how that worked out. The Sun Devils took an early 7-0 lead only to see Oregon rebound with 43 straight points on their way to a convincing 43-21 win in Tempe.
A loss like that could take the wind out of the sails of many football teams, but Arizona State has shaken it off quickly according to head coach Todd Graham.
“If you lose your confidence in one game, you didn’t have any,” Graham said Monday during his weekly press conference. “I think our guys are very confident in their abilities.”
This week provides a clean slate of sorts for the Sun Devils (5-2 overall, 3-1 Pac-12) as they host the UCLA Bruins. A loss to UCLA last year in Pasadena was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back for ASU. The Devils stepped foot on the field at the Rose Bowl with a 6-2 record and control of their own destiny for a Pac-12 South championship. They left with a 29-28 loss that started an ugly five-game losing streak to end the season.
After suffering a high-profile loss, the possibility of a “hangover” is a concern. Graham dismissed that notion bluntly.
“Anybody that says that they have a hangover because they got beat the last week, that’s an excuse,” Graham said. “You’ve got to get your guys ready to play every week.
“It’s about being mature, it’s about being a competitor. If you want to be a championship team, you’ve got to come back, you’ve got to bring it — you’ve got to play every week.”
UCLA comes to Tempe with a 5-2 record (2-2 in conference play) and well-rested after a bye week. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon at Sun Devil Stadium.