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Arizona State heralded as team with ‘BCS sleeper potential’

ESPN isn’t the only sports outlet to think that Arizona State’s football program is underrated going into the 2013 season.

A Sports Illustrated writer, Zac Ellis, has joined in proclaiming that the Sun Devils could surprise people this year. Ellis takes a look at the teams that didn’t get ranked in the preseason coaches’ poll, and he lists ASU as one of his “five teams with BCS sleeper potential.”

The Sun Devils didn’t stand out in a fast-improving Pac-12 last season, but Todd Graham’s program could be poised to make national headlines this fall. Fourteen starters return across the roster, none more noteworthy than defensive tackle Will Sutton, who recorded 13 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss in 2012. Sutton is one of the country’s premier defensive linemen, and he’ll anchor a unit that finished second in the conference in total defense last year.

Ellis also praises the Sun Devils’ offense, pointing to the “dangerous” running back duo of Marion Grice and D.J. Foster, as well as to starting quarterback Taylor Kelly, who is coming off a strong sophomore year and should only keeping getting better as a junior.

The writer even says ASU is overlooked within its own conference.

At this time last year, USC was the prohibitive Pac-12 South favorite. Yet the Trojans’ struggles threw the division into chaos, and the Sun Devils could reap the benefits. Arizona State has the players to be one of the league’s most balanced teams in 2013. If it can navigate a brutal first month that includes games against Wisconsin, Stanford, USC and Notre Dame, Graham’s squad could challenge for a surprising BCS berth.