ASU’s win against Washington was a significant step; they were basically playing themselves. Or at least, a mirror image of themselves.
Both teams had established they were not elite (Washington lost to Stanford and Oregon, ASU to Notre Dame and Stanford), yet both wanted to prove they were very good, that they were the next notch right below elite. The winner could claim that prize while the loser seemed destined to spend another year on the 7-6 or 8-5 treadmill.
That’s partly why UW coach Steve Sarkisian called it their most important game and insisted that was not typical coach cliché.
The Devils’ resounding win maintained hope that this can still be a very good, borderline great season for ASU.
Now comes the tricky part.
Winning on the road is one of the toughest things to do in college football. For ASU, the next phase of their test is about to commence.
Since 2008, this program has tallied zero conference wins outside the state of Arizona in the second half of the season. None. Other than a pair of wins against Arizona and the bowl victory against Navy last year, there are no road victories to speak of in the second half of the season since beating Washington in November of 2008.
That’s not all on Todd Graham. Or Dennis Erickson. It’s simply a reflection of how badly the Devils have struggled to finish off promising starts the last several years, in particular when those finishes call for a significant road win or two.
In this case, they might need three, as three of their next four are on the road (at Washington St., at Utah, home vs. Oregon State, at UCLA).
If they can find a way to do what they have not lately, this will be a special season for ASU. If not, it’s back to the old treadmill.