Arizona State went to Palo Alto Saturday and got destroyed by a score of 42-28, and the game was not even that close.
The Sun Devils were down 29-0 at the half, and only made the score close after Cardinal coach David Shaw decided to take his foot off the gas and send his reserves into the game. Credit Todd Graham’s squad for not quitting, as former coach Dennis Erickson’s teams would have, but as my colleague Doug Franz wrote, it would be foolish to believe the second half was a sign that the Devils can hang with a team like that.
Because they can’t. Obviously.
However, even more foolish are the ASU fans who, for some reason, thought the Sun Devils were going to go into Palo Alto and knock off the No. 5 team in the country. The fans who believed the win over Wisconsin was a sign that ASU was ready to join college football’s elite and challenge for a BCS game.
They’re the ones who have bought into every single word of coach-speak that has come out of Graham’s mouth.
Truth is teams don’t often beat the Cardinal in their own building. In fact, the only teams that have done so since 2010 are listed below:
2011 – Oregon
Sorry, but ASU is no Oregon. Not even close.
Of Arizona State’s eight wins last season, just two came against teams that went to bowl games. Todd Graham’s debut season in the desert was a success, but his team may not have been quite as good as the record indicated. There is nothing wrong with being average, especially when you’re in the early stages of rebuilding a program.
But as is the case for all things Sun Devil football, it appears the expectations have gotten out of hand. No doubt Graham shares some blame, as his style is not to shy away from expectations or proclaiming just how great he thinks his team is. At the same time, though, if fans of the maroon and gold don’t take a look at themselves and realize what their program is right now, it may never reach the level it could be.
During much of Saturday’s debacle, social media was filled with complaints about the coach. Be it his game management, scheme or headset, everyone seemed to find something wrong with the man who, a week ago, was coming off the biggest win ASU’s had in quite some time.
Indeed, Graham did not coach a good game (second time in two weeks) and the headset looked ridiculous. But while he repeatedly said the coaches failed to get the team ready to play and failed the players, the truth is the Sun Devils were not — and are not — ready to compete with a team like Stanford. ASU does not have the talent it takes to go on the road and beat one of the best teams in the country, as was evidenced by the team getting pushed around on the line, struggling to both run the ball and stop the run, all while failing to hold onto many catchable passes.
But this game said more about Stanford than it did about ASU. The Cardinal are great, the Sun Devils are not. A shock? Hardly.
All that said, the Devils are capable of beating pretty much anyone left on the schedule, which means this season is not anywhere close to being over.