I've covered my fair share of Arizona State Sun Devils football games over the last three years. I've been on the field for some of the Sun Devils' brightest moments, and in awkward press conferences during their lowest points.
If there's anything I've learned about ASU in the Todd Graham era, it's to expect the unexpected.
I can admit when I'm wrong. Coming into last Saturday, not a single thought in my mind pictured an Arizona State victory over the No. 7 UCLA Bruins. I predicted the Sun Devils wouldn't score more than 17 points over the Bruins and was expected Arizona State to be embarrassed on national television for a second week in a row.
Boy, this team shut me up.
But could you blame me, though? This team hadn't really given anyone much reason to believe in it after a subpar four week to begin the season.
Frankly, this isn't the first time they've delivered on a much-needed upset like this one.
It's been a trend that's been going on for the last couple seasons, actually. Last year, Arizona State got thumped by the Bruins in Tempe, then followed it up with the iconic "Jael Mary" over USC that throttled the Sun Devils with so much momentum through the middle of the season. In 2013, Arizona State pulled off another upset over USC after getting dismantled at Stanford the week before.
So of course ASU had to do this for a third time in a row Saturday.
Yes, I read most of the comments and tweets posted on the House of Sparky channels and have seen basically every kind of gripe about the team. Some of them are reasonable — like Mike Norvell's offense doesn't fit Mike Bercovici's skill set well — while others are outright ridiculous (yes, I'm looking at you, "Fire Todd Graham!" crowd).
Arizona State still looks far from perfect, but as my colleague Ryan Bafaloukos wrote following the Sun Devils' loss to USC last Saturday, having a tough schedule with Texas A&M, USC and UCLA in the first five weeks didn't help ASU much. It hasn't been ideal, but ASU isn't completely dead after this stretch and have finally shown improvement.
After a homecoming game against Colorado next week, the Sun Devils still have to host Oregon and travel to Salt Lake City to face an impressive Utes team.
Considering the nature of the Pac-12, the next several weeks should have no shortage of craziness for the Sun Devils. It's the type of conference that sees a hoo-hum Stanford Cardinal offense drop over 40 points on USC, or a mediocre Colorado Buffaloes team hang with the flashy Oregon Ducks for 3.5 quarters.
Long story short, nothing makes sense in the Pac-12.
ASU may be a long shot away from the College Football Playoff, but a win over UCLA very well keeps them in the Pac-12 South and Pac-12 Championship conversations. Though Utah has started the season 4-0, the Sun Devils still keep even ground with the Trojans and Bruins with one loss apiece with seven more conference matchups coming up.
Buckle up, because it's going to be a crazy ride for Arizona State — for better or worse.