We've all seen it plastered on billboards, on TV and on twitter: "Blackout Bucky!" Saturday night's game against No. 20 Wisconsin will be the fourth blackout game in history, and one of the most hyped up games in recent memory. The Sun Devils have been outscored 104-85 in blackout games, but they hope to change all of that as they take the field in front of a blacked out (there has to be a better way to word that) Sun Devil Stadium.
The idea for the blackout came after Arizona State athletics worked with Nike to re-brand themselves in April of 2011. The re-branding included the pitchfork logo, new font, and of course the all-black football uniforms. It marked the first time since the 1950s that the Sun Devils would be using black helmets.
With the uniforms ready to go, the first blackout game in Arizona State history was played on Sept. 9, 2011 against Missouri.
Needless to say it was an absolute success. Over 70,000 fans dressed in black filled Sun Devil Stadium, and watched Arizona State defeat Missouri 37-30 in an overtime thriller.
However, since that game the Sun Devils have been unable to replicate their success in blackout games.
On Nov. 19, 2011 the team decided to don the black uniforms once again as they hosted Arizona for the Territorial Cup. Again, Sun Devil Stadium was completely blacked out, but this time the outcome on the field was much different. The team squandered a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, and fell to the Wildcats 31-27.
Arizona State's most recent blackout game came against No. 3 Oregon last year. The team jumped out to a 7-0 lead after forcing a turnover on Oregon's first drive. The atmosphere was absolutely electric in Sun Devil Stadium, but Oregon quickly put that to an end. The Ducks put up 43 unanswered points in the first half, and the Sun Devils' hopes for the upset were gone.
The Sun Devils hope to change their recent string of bad luck in blackout games as they host No. 20 Wisconsin on Saturday.
Quarterback Taylor Kelly said that the whole team circles the blackout game on their calendars.
"It's great to see all of our fans in black, and the student section going crazy," Kelly said. "There's nothing like it."
Kelly struggled against Oregon in last season's blackout game, but he said he looks forward to this year's opportunity.
"I'm focused on Wisconsin, and the game plan that we have for them," Kelly said. "It's going to be a great game against a great opponent. I'm excited for our fans to come out and help us out."
Defensive tackle Will Sutton acknowledges the importance of the blackout game.
"It's big. Everybody loves the blackout, everybody loves playing out there," Sutton said. "Everybody's going to give it 100-percent."
Head coach Todd Graham said his team is confident going into Saturday.
"This is the game where we're going to see exactly where we're at. [A win] would be a big step forward for us," Graham said. "These guys expect to win."