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Winning is a big win

It might be easier to see the forest because the trees are right in front of you.

The original form of that phrase is supposed to explain blindly looking for an answer, a reason or a solution when the explanation is so clearly in front of you. ASU beating Duke in a bowl game is the same thing.

Everything any fan knows about football is screaming at the logic that Arizona State’s win means anything. Maybe the view inside the forest is the one that matters. Instead of fans or analysts trying to explain the irrelevance of winning in El Paso, the opinions that carry the most weight should be those of the players and coaches.

Don’t fall into the trap of an initial response to ASU’s victory over the Blue Devils.

“No one really cares.”

That’s always a feeling people across the country think about a bowl game when their team isn’t in it. I’m sure there were very few fans in Phoenix breathing heavily on every play of the St. Petersburg Bowl. After being on the sideline, I can tell you how important this game was to the people that were playing. The players that watched from the sideline last year during the debacle in San Diego hated the feeling. It was palpable from an energy standpoint. The conversations on the bench were highly focused. Nobody wants to get their butt ripped, and Coach Todd Graham was coaching just as hard for this win as he has the previous nine this year.

“All you did was beat a basketball school.”

Duke was one point versus Virginia Tech away from winning its division instead of Georgia Tech and facing Florida State in the ACC Championship Game.

“Big deal! It was the Sun Bowl.”

Recruits are wrapping up their final commitments. Sophomores and juniors are watching everything any program does to gauge whether a team is on the rise or in decline. Winning the Sun Bowl is important. Losing the Sun Bowl to Duke would be a football version of disaster.

No one wants to come to the Sun Bowl. An invite to the Sun Bowl means there was no invite from the Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, Alamo, Holiday or Foster Farms bowls. ASU missed out on having a magical season due to losses to Oregon State and Arizona. However, Arizona State replaced 9 starters on defense, lost its starting QB for the middle of the season and was expected to have no chance to compete for a South division championship.

If new pieces on the offensive line come together and Mike Bercovici is able to build on what he accomplished this year, ASU will again compete for a special year. The preparations for the Sun Bowl will help next year. The win in the Sun Bowl will help next year. It’s easy to think beating Duke wasn’t a big win. Winning is a big win.

If the coaches, players and recruits think it was a big win, they’re the only ones that matter. Anyone downplaying the win might walk into a tree before seeing it.