As we approach Saturday's game, there is a fair amount of Sun Devil fans who aren't very confident in ASU's chances (for what it's worth, I wasn't confident entering last year's game, and look how that turned out).
However, as it turns out, sports and the forces of the universe that play into it all really don't care what you, I or anyone else thinks or feels concerning the possibility of a team winning a game. To some, the outcome is predetermined. To others, those directly involved in actively shaping the result can create their own fortune.
Last season's miraculous finish against USC was as much earned as it was bestowed. This is college football. Even when one doesn't have much faith that the final score will be in their team's favor, it's as improbable to believe a miraculous finish couldn't occur (again) as it is improbable for it to happen.
With that said, let's revisit arguably the greatest play in Arizona State football history.
The score stood at 27-18 with just over five minutes left and USC leading before a wacky series of events led to a 34-32 scoreline, USC still ahead, and ASU in possession with one last shot from the Trojans' 46-yard line.
Seven seconds is all it took.
With the ball marked on the left hash, Mike Bercovici is in the gun, with Deantre Lewis to his right in the backfield and tight end Kody Kohl in tight off of left tackle Jamil Douglas' shoulder.
The Sun Devils only send three receivers out on a route, each lined up to the right side of the formation, from inside out: D.J. Foster, Jaelen Strong, and Cameron Smith. All three hit a dead sprint towards the end zone.
The Trojans send a three-man rush, dropping the other eight in coverage.
Bercovici takes a three-step drop before planting his right foot at the Sun Devils' 45-yard line, and unloading a bomb that carries over 50 yards in the air. The receivers are just breaking past the 20-yard line as Bercovici unleashes it.
There are five Trojan defenders surrounding the three Sun Devil targets.
Foster, who lined up along the seam, is uncovered, but trailing behind Strong and Smith. Smith, lined up on the outside, is being manned by Kevon Seymour, who sticks him all the way through the play. Strong is being covered by Chris Hawkins, but turns him around inside the 10-yard line as he makes a cut inside while tracking the ball.
Linebacker Hayes Pullard is in the best position of all the USC defenders, as he's locked in on the ball just inside the five-yard line, and has made an about-face, arms prepared to make what should be an easy catch.
Strong begins his move in.
Behind Pullard—who's still backpedalling at the edge of the goal-line—Leon McQuay III slightly overplays the trajectory of the pass to the right, giving him no shot at making a play on the ball.
Strong soars in and catches the ball at its highest point. Pullard doesn't contest the catch. McQuay makes his recovery too late.
And the captured astonishment of bewildered Trojans fans.
This is the type of craziness that so regularly occurs in college football. Even in the most unlikely of situations (and one can rather easily make the case that earning a victory this weekend isn't outrageous), anything is possible.
So, let's take a moment and reflect Sun Devil fans.
Anything can happen, and we've seen it happen before.