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ASU Football: Sun Devils look to continue dominance in season openers

Getting the season started off on the right foot has been a staple at Arizona State in its recent history.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It has now been 12 years since Arizona State football last lost a game to open its season. Looking for a marquee nonconference opponent after Oklahoma cancelled a future series with the Sun Devils, the program jumped at the opportunity to open the 2002 season a week earlier than normal in the BCA Classic against 10th-ranked Nebraska. While the addition did mean the Sun Devils would have to play 13 regular season games, the national exposure would more than make up for it.

An overmatched Arizona State team kept things close for 30 minutes in Lincoln and was only down 10-3 at the half before the hosts found a different gear. A pair of unanswered touchdowns by the Cornhuskers put the game out of reach, and by the time the night was over their quarterback had rushed for more than 100 yards. The final was 48-10, and that was the last time the Sun Devils entered Week 2 with a record of 0-1. Below we take a look at what has happened since.

2003 vs Northern Arizona

Arizona State had impressed the country after nearly beating a top-10 Kansas State team the previous December and entered the 2003 season ranked 21st in the AP poll. Visiting Northern Arizona marched right down the field on its opening drive, getting a six-yard touchdown pass to pull ahead 7-0. The Sun Devils answered with a touchdown of their own later in the quarter and cruised from there for a 34-14 victory. Junior quarterback Andrew Walter would throw for four touchdowns by the end of the night.

2004 vs UTEP

UTEP would go on to win eight games in 2004, but Dirk Koetter's Sun Devils slaughtered the Miners on a Thursday night to open the year in Tempe. The home team rolled off 24 points to open the game, then scored 17 more after a UTEP touchdown. The final was 49-9, sending former Washington State and Alabama coach Mike Price back to El Paso with a disheartening defeat in his first game as coach there.

2005 vs Temple

Another season opener, another Thursday night in the desert. And another slaughter. Arizona State took a 28-2 lead into the locker rooms, then scored another 31 points in the second half. Freshman Keegan Herring started at running back and ran for 134 yards on only 12 carries in what is considered one of the most outstanding freshman debuts in school history.

2006 vs Northern Arizona

The Lumberjacks returned three seasons later for another in-state battle, and the second edition was eerily similar to the first. Arizona State won 35-14 behind 261 yards through the air from Rudy Carpenter. This would be Koetter's final season opener with the team, being released later in the year because of an inability to win big games.

2007 vs San Jose State

The Dennis Erickson era started off with a bang against the visiting Spartans. His high-powered offense put up 45 points and new defensive coordinator Craig Bray did a great job of preparing for a solid San Jose State team. The game was the first of an eight-game winning streak to open the season, a period in which they would climb all the way to No. 6 in the AP poll.

2008 vs Northern Arizona

The Sun Devils entered the season ranked in the top 20 in most preseason polls, but a struggle to pull away from the Jacks may have been a sign of what was to come later in the year. The final score was 30-13, but Erickson's team would go on to lose to UNLV and get blown out against Oregon and Arizona. The team missed a bowl game for the first time since 2003.

2009 vs Idaho State

Ready to wash the bad tastes out of its mouths from the year before, Arizona State took out its frustrations on another hapless Big Sky opponent. Senior linebacker Mike Nixon intercepted the Bengals three times and blocked a punt en route to a 50-3 blowout.

2010 vs Portland State

The Sun Devils won this one 54-9, but perhaps more significant was the fact that this was the first of two FCS opponents they faced in 2010. With only a 6-6 record after the season ended, the team was ineligible for a bowl game since two of the six came against Portland State and Northern Arizona.

2011 vs UC Davis

While everyone's attention was on the week two game against Missouri, business still needed to be taken care of in week one against UC Davis. Cameron Marshall and company would do just that. The junior ran for two touchdowns as Arizona State eased its way to a 48-14 win.

2012 vs Northern Arizona

Entering the game on a five-game losing streak and with a brand new coach, the Sun Devils started the Todd Graham era in style. Arizona State rolled off 42 consecutive points to open the game and ended up running away with a 63-6 win, its first of eight in Graham's first year.

2013 vs Sacramento State

Hey, look. Another Big Sky opponent. That's original. The Sun Devils began one of their best seasons in the history of the program on a hot Thursday night against Sacramento State. The Hornets had beaten a Pac-12 opponent in each of the last two years and quarterback Taylor Kelly was determined to not let it happen a third time. He threw for 300 yards and the defense pitched its only shutout on this list as Arizona State won 55-0.