There is a bevy of Pac-10 and ASU related news barreling down the cardboard tubes that make up the internet, as the opening game comes up this weekend.
I will run through all things remotely ASU related that I can find, and sprinkle in some things that people are saying about our conference rivals.
Kirk Herbstreit, college gamedays quarterback, has chalked up his eighth annual "Herbie Awards." Naturally banal, Herbstreit manages to completely ignore the Sun Devils, while peppering his rankings with WILDCAT references. Pac-10 sleeper? Coach that will exceed expectations? #3 team that is "movin' on up"? 5th best dropback quarterback? 2nd best tight end? 6th best wide receiver? GOODNESS KIRK! It will be a tad silly when Arizona goes 4-8 and loses to us by 2 touchdowns or more in Arizona.
ESPN's Pac-10 blogger, Ted Miller, checks in with the Pac-10's toughest schedules and puts the Sun Devils squarely in the middle at #5. A lot of his rationale on his rankings seems a tad off. He seems to be giving a lot of credit to the teams who play BYU... hmm.
Miller also throws up his 10 Pac-10 games to watch list, with the Sun Devils taking home 30% of the honors. #3, #4, and #7 respectively, I find it a little odd that Oregon at USC gets number 2, but Georgia at ASU gets number 4? Hmm. And somehow, Oregon at ASU gets #3... I mean, we all love the Sun Devils, but who really thinks the Oregon game is as big of a matchup as the Georgia game? If we beat Georgia suddenly we have national title aspirations...if we don't... eh.
3. Oregon at Arizona State, Oct. 25: This one could be for the Holiday Bowl berth. Or perhaps, if USC plays for the national title, a Rose Bowl. Basically, the Ducks visit to Tempe likely decides who plays second fiddle to USC. The Sun Devils will be looking for revenge after last year's 12-point loss in Eugene, their first defeat in 2007 after an 8-0 start.
4. Georgia at Arizona State, Sept. 20: This is more a test for Georgia, which is the preseason No. 1 in both polls. The Bulldogs haven't traveled outside the Southeast in decades for a non-conference game, but it's worth noting they have been an outstanding road team in the SEC under coach Mark Richt. If the Sun Devils win, it would be a landmark victory announcing the program as a team headed for the elite.
7. Arizona State at California, Oct. 4: Arizona State's biggest win of 2007 in terms of perception was over California, and that shows the lack of big wins among the Sun Devils 10 victories because the Bears were at the time riding a two-game losing streak (it turned out the biggest win was a stunning comeback victory over Oregon State in the Pac-10 opener, but that's not the point here). It's possible that the loser here will fall out of the race for second place.
Oregon seems to be a bit of an enigma heading into the season - some polls value them highly and have them as a trendy sleeper pick, other analysts seem to be discounting them entirely. Obviously Miller feels they will challenge ASU for second place in the Pac-10, and it will be interesting to see if it does come down to that game in October for all the marbles and a Rose Bowl berth.
The Arizona Republic checks in from Sun Devil camp, and everyone will be pleased to see that Chris McGaha has returned to practice after missing the past 10 practices.
There are also some very interesting tidbits. A list of true freshman who will be playing against NAU is listed:
Although personnel discussions continue, Erickson said at least eight true freshmen probably will play this season: defensive end Lawrence Guy, linebacker Brandon Magee, linebacker Shelly Lyons, cornerback Josh Jordan, tailback Ryan Bass, receiver Gerell Robinson offensive lineman Zach Schlink and safety Clint Floyd.
Another option is Andrew Sampson, recently promoted to second-team center because of an ankle injury to redshirt freshman Garth Gerhart.
Asked if he was surprised by any of the freshmen's progress, Erickson mentioned Schlink and Floyd but said, "I think anybody that plays as a freshman is kind of a surprise."
ASU expects to pass 50,000 season-ticket packages sold, which would be the most in two decades. As of late last week, about 1,900 ticket packages remained.
Sun Devil nation is coming out this year. Good news, we will need everyone we can get for some tough road games against USC, Oregon, and Georgia.