Bill Slane

ASU’s homecoming a must-win for second straight year

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The homecoming game for the Sun Devils always has a different feeling about it. Last season’s homecoming matchup against the UCLA Bruins, in hindsight, was the most important game of the whole season. At the end of the year, it was that game that decided who would represent the South in the Pac-12 title game. This year’s homecoming against the Washington Huskies has the makings to be just as good a game as last season’s, and will be just as important in terms of the Pac-12 standings and in determining who will play for the Pac-12 title.

Head coach Todd Graham talked on Monday about the magnitude of this Saturday’s game and what is necessary for the Sun Devils to get the victory.

“This is a big game obviously […] We have to have all hands on deck. We need to have a great crowd, and obviously we need our student section to perform as they did in the other games, the USC game was incredible, that’s the kind of atmosphere we need to have,” Graham said at his weekly press conference.

Graham went on to say that after watching the Huskies on film, he’d compare their talent level to that of the USC Trojans.

Aside from the disappointment of losing on a last second field goal in last year’s homecoming, the loss against UCLA last year was also part of 4-game losing streak for the Sun Devils (three of which were against ranked opponents). Losing this game on Saturday, especially in a way like the team lost to the Bruins last year, would end up being a killer in morale and could be disastrous for the rest of the season.

The two games following Washington are both on the road, games where the Sun Devils have typically not played as well. A trip to Pullman on Halloween night to face the Washington State Cougars was pointed out as a trap game even before the season. That game is then followed by another road trip to Salt Lake City to face off against the Utah Utes. That game appears more difficult after Utah upset the Stanford Cardinal last Saturday.

At this point of the season, it’s hard to say that a game is a “must-win”, but for the second year in a row, the homecoming game for ASU is a must-win. Coach Graham and his team continue to hold on to their overall goal of winning the Pac-12 championship and ultimately a Rose Bowl title. In order to do that, the team needs to win games like this, they need to win at home, and they need to keep their Pac-12 record as clean as possible.

Bishop Sankey, the nation’s leading rusher, and the Washington Huskies’ offense poses a very good test for the Sun Devils on Saturday afternoon, and it’s a test the team must pass to achieve their goals at the end of the season.

About Bill Slane

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