Arizona State coach Kenny Dillingham has been imploring ASU faithful to ‘Activate the Valley,’ he even challenged the fan base after a disappointing turnout in the Week 1 win over Southern Utah. But, what does that really look like?
Well, when No. 5 USC came to Mountain America Stadium for the final meeting against the Sun Devils as Pac-12 Conference rivals, Dillingham and his players got a taste.
“This environment, this is activating the valley, the sold out crowd loud — 3rd and 20, the first drive with two penalties, like that was just as much that was just important to winning this game than anything I’ve done in my meeting rooms and my players,” Dillingham said.
ASU had a season-high 54,166 in attendance and the atmosphere felt like what a serious Division I program should feel like. It was what the players deserved.
Buckle your seat belts, kickoff is next.— House of Sparky (@HouseOfSparky) September 24, 2023
USC will receive the opening kick. pic.twitter.com/XoM9g3nDEx
“They want these moments,” Dillingham said of the atmosphere. “You come to ASU to play in these moments and every kid goes to a college and a lot of their decision is the environment. To be honest, the environment we create is going to not only affect wins, it’s going to affect recruiting.”
Nobody for Arizona State had a bigger night than running back Cam Skattebo, and he credited the fans for ASU’s gritty performance.
“It was beautiful out there with all the fans still there,” he said. “You know, when I come out at half time and I see everybody still on the sidelines or everyone is still in the stands, It’s like they believe in us.”
Despite the 42-28 loss, it was the most complete Arizona State has looked on both sides of the ball in the Dillingham era. ASU accumulated 353 total offensive yards — with 190 of that coming from Skattebo — and put up a season-high 28 points while keeping pace with the nations top offense and Caleb Williams. The Sun Devils, who entered Saturday’s matchup at five touchdown underdogs, made the Trojans earn their win on a true road game.
Dillingham again challenged ASU faithful to activate the valley when the Buffaloes visit the desert in two weeks. “I challenge people to bring that because that was an environment that was an environment you can win at a high level in. That was an environment that our kids deserve. That was an environment our fans deserve because it’s fun.”
ASU will welcome Deion Prime and the Colorado Buffaloes on Oct. 7 with kickoff set for 3:30 PST at Mountain America Stadium.