Arizona State will suit up to host USC Saturday with a lot on the line. A season seemingly headed off the rails, questions regarding the team’s heart, and a last gasp at any hopes of winning the Pac-12 South division hang in the balance this weekend. One thing that won’t be — but should be — on the minds of ASU players and fans, is perspective.
Almost exactly one year after the Sun Devils took on USC in an empty Los Angeles coliseum, they’ll host the Trojans in a packed Sun Devil Stadium. Shake off the acid reflux you may experience from recalling the final minutes of that contest, and consider the circumstances. That game last November? The first of four in an exhausting, late starting, virus cancellation infested shortened season.
This one? The ninth game of what will be a full 12-game season in front of Sun Devil fans, and hostile road atmospheres alike.
Late in the summer of 2020, it looked as though there would be no fall football season in the Pac-12. The compromise we got was cherished, but ultimately resembled a shriveled and malnourished version of the gluttonous college football season we’ve come to know and love. All that changed in 2021. We have a vaccine, and things are normal again in Tempe.
The game day scene in the blocks surrounding the stadium, nonexistent last year without fans, is once again blossoming. Music thumps, meats are grilled, and thousands of Maroon and Gold clad faithful come together. Fans throw up their forks for pictures while the predictable hum of game day traffic occupies each Tempe Avenue. There’s a lot to be happy about leading up to kickoff in front of a sellout crowd.
So while you rightfully voice your gripes about the team on the field and the state of the program as a whole, take a second to appreciate what we have. We took it for granted before, and it hurt like hell to be without it. It’s football season in Tempe, smile about it.