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Arizona State vs. Wisconsin: Flashing back to 2010 with Deantre Lewis

If you remember correctly, Deantre Lewis was a big-play machine back in 2010's 20-19 loss to Wisconsin. Just don't ask him to talk about it.

Anyone remember this?
Anyone remember this?
Jonathan Daniel

In theory, 2010's week three matchup against Wisconsin should be one of the most memorable games of running back Deantre Lewis' Arizona State career.

In only his third game as a Sun Devil, Lewis stormed into Camp Randall and compiled 122 rushing yards on just nine carries. To this day, those numbers still hold up as the highest yard per carry average and the second highest rushing total of his collegiate career.

Unfortunately, Lewis is unable to reminisce about his coming out party. And it's all because he suffers from a bad case of competitive amnesia.

"We lost," said Lewis when asked what he recalls from the game. "That's it...My performance didn't matter because we didn't come out on top."

The only takeaway Lewis found in ASU's 20-19 loss to the Badgers is precisely that: the final score. Despite Lewis' best game-breaking efforts, the Devils failed to upset then No. 11 Wisconsin due to a gut-wrenching turn of events late in the fourth quarter.

After running back Cameron Marshall capped off a nine-play, 77-yard drive with a two-yard rushing touchdown, the Devils pulled within one point of tying the Badgers. But ASU kicker Thomas Weber saw his ensuing extra point blocked by Jay Valai as the senior safety somehow squeezed through the middle of the line for a leaping swat. Wisconsin then nursed the remaining 4:09 off the clock to steal the victory.

Nearly three years later, the Sun Devils are finally getting their first chance at revenge. Arizona State is set to host Wisconsin this Saturday at 7:30 PM PT. And quite frankly, Lewis is licking his chops at the thought of a second chance.

"If you go back in time, we should have beat them by at least three touchdowns," Lewis said. "But with the penalties and us being undisciplined at the time, we kind of screwed ourselves."

Lewis is dead on in stating that yellow flags were the Devils' downfall. ASU had a total of eight penalties for 61 yards on the day. The low points include a holding call that wiped an 80-yard punt return touchdown from Jamal Miles off the board and an unnecessary roughness call that allowed the Badgers to continue their final, clock-clearing drive.

At least Lewis is confident there's little chance that happens this time around.

"We have a team that's more disciplined," said Lewis. "Coach [Todd] Graham preaches it every time: no penalties. That's the first thing on our boards when we come into meetings."

And that's the first thing fans notice when comparing the Graham era to the Dennis Erickson era.

Graham inherited a roster from Erickson that led the country in both penalties and penalty yards per game in 2011. After one year of instilling his football values in his new team, Graham guided the Sun Devils to the eighth fewest penalty yards per game in the nation.

So far, that's carried over into 2013 as the Devils had only one five-yard penalty called against them in their opener against Sacramento State last Thursday. Although Graham didn't feel the sting of 2010, he's hoping that the newfound discipline will be the difference this time around.

"I think the strides we have made are in maturing as a football team," Graham said in Monday's press conference. "We have made more strides in our character development and our leadership development than from a scheme standpoint."

But will that be enough to propel Graham's Devils into uncharted territory?

After the most recent AP poll Sunday, Arizona State is barely on the outside looking in at 26th overall. While the 64 votes ASU received were the most since Graham arrived in Tempe, a win over No. 20 Wisconsin will undoubtedly be enough to break that Top 25 barrier.

Yet, just like a good coach, Graham has his players programmed not to buy into the media hype.

"We're not really worried about the rankings," Lewis said. "We're just worried about winning every snap that we have."

And the revenge, Deantre. Don't forget the revenge.