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Todd Graham, ASU Sun Devils looking forward to challenge of 2013

Pac-12 Media Day started with the release of the preseason media poll, which tabbed the Arizona State Sun Devils to finish second in the South Division.

Although that’s pretty good, especially considering that head coach Todd Graham is entering just his second year on the job, it doesn’t satisfy this year’s team.

The 2013 Sun Devils believe they can win the conference outright for the first time since 1996.

“Yes, I one-hundred percent believe that,” quarterback Taylor Kelly said on the podium at the annual event in Culver City, Calif. “We have great guys coming back, and the summer we had and spring ball and just growing as a team is huge.

“I can’t wait for the season to get started.”

Defensive tackle Will Sutton, the returning Pat Tillman Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, is on board with that thinking too, and cites ASU’s team-wide synergy as the reason.

“I feel like the relationships between me and my teammates are stronger than we ever had,” he said. “We believe in one another, we don’t have to worry about someone else to do their job because we know they’re going to get it done.

“We have all the confidence in the world to accomplish our goal.”

Accomplishing that goal will mean the Sun Devils will have to navigate through a treacherous stretch of schedule in September and October that includes dates against Wisconsin, Stanford, USC and Notre Dame on consecutive Saturdays.

When asked about it, Graham said he’s not worried about that rough month yet.

“We’ve got to beat about Sac State and then go to the next one,” he said. “That’s how we do it, we’ve got on our wrists (bands that say) ‘any challenge’ and we don’t look at that with any regret — anything on our schedule.

“We look at it as a great opportunity.”

The Sun Devils host Sacramento State in Tempe to open their 2013 season Thursday, September 5.