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ASU Football: Sun Devils ranked 22nd in ESPN's early top 25

It's way too early for rankings, but that doesn't mean we're not paying attention. Find out where ESPN pegs Arizona State for the 2014 season.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Moments after Heisman trophy winner Jameis Winston led Florida State to a stunning comeback victory over Auburn, the college football world turned the page.

As the final horn sounded at the National Championship game, the BCS era came to an end and so did the 2013 season. At long last, teams can start anew and look ahead to 2014 with a blank slate ahead of them.

After the title game concluded, ESPN released its way-too-early top 25 for the 2014 season and the Arizona State Sun Devils appeared at No. 22.

The Sun Devils finished 21st in the final AP rankings for the 2013 season after a disappointing effort against unranked Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl. Arizona State finished 10-4, but claimed its first Pac-12 South title and suffered half of its losses to a Stanford team that closed out the year at No. 11 in the AP poll.

At No. 22, the Sun Devils are the sixth highest ranked Pac-12 team in ESPN's way-too-early top 25 and the third ranked team in the Pac-12 South.

The Oregon Ducks appear at No. 3 followed by the Stanford Cardinal at No. 4 while the UCLA Bruins come in at No. 7 to give the Pac-12 three different teams in the top 10. The USC Trojans show up at No. 14 and the Washington Huskies make an appearance at No. 19.

It appears as though Arizona State's strength of schedule will remain just as difficult next season as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish rank one spot below the Sun Devils at No. 23 and come to Tempe next season for a rematch of this year's game in Dallas.

The Sun Devils are fortunate to drop the Wisconsin Badgers from their schedule as Gary Andersen's squad returns a number of key cogs and ranked 15th in ESPN's early top 25.

It's hard to put too much stock in early rankings and preseason polls because the 14-0 Florida State Seminoles were not ranked in the top 10 prior to this season. As for the Auburn Tigers, Gus Malzahn's squad didn't even receive a vote in the 2013 AP Top 25 preseason poll.

Regardless of how the offseason shakes out, Arizona State should remain on the radar of national pollsters because of an offense that returns quarterback Taylor Kelly, running back D.J. Foster and wide receiver Jaelen Strong. Much of the Sun Devils' perception will also depend on whether or not Devil backer Carl Bradford returns for his senior season, as Bradford could be a leading candidate for the Pat Tillman Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award in 2014.