Sun Devil fans, we could all sit here, buy into Coach Todd Graham's amazingly large repertoire of idioms, and believe the game against the California Polytechnic State University Mustangs is just as big as our match-up against Kenny and his Aggies. Or maybe New Mexico's return to the Valley of the Sun is as big a deal as Oregon's after their two year hiatus. Or maybe the Buffs stampeding back into Tempe will be as hotly contested as the Duel in the Desert.
Except, I've always seen myself as more of a realist. Arizona State has five teams they can't wait to get their hands on in 2015 and no, the Mustangs sadly missed the cut. Trust me, I'm just as heartbroken as you are.
5. USC Trojans
The hype is strong in this one. In his first year back with the Trojans, Coach Sark had the Trojans back in a prominent bowl game, beating the Huskers in San Diego. This year the ceiling is much higher with analysts predicting a top 5 preseason seeding for the University of Southern California. With the Sun Devils projected to be lurking just behind in the low teens, Sparky & Company would love nothing more than to knock off the media's darlings and jettison themselves into the National Championship conversation.
However, even with the possibility of playing spoiler, there is no doubt that the Trojans will be more jacked up come game time. Remember last year and how the #JaelMary ripped USC fans' hearts in half like Lisa did Ralph Wiggum's? Or the year before that when we beat them so bad Pat Haden told Lane Kiffin to take the bus home from LAX? Hey USC, people don't forget.
4. Texas A&M Aggies
Adidas AdvoCare Texas Kickoff has all the makings of a coming out party for Arizona State. Despite back to back ten win seasons, the lack of success in a marquee bowl has left ASU's success somewhat in the dark. A win over a prominent top 25 SEC team in a nationally televised kickoff game will allow Arizona State to burst out of the shadows and onto the national stage.
After all, AdvoCare's motto is "We Build Champions"; an ASU win would go a long way to doing so. Also, AdvoCare I take my plug payments in either cash or gluten free hard cider. Ball's in your court.
3. Oregon Ducks
The last time the Ducks came to Tempe, I was just a bright eyed, bushy tailed freshman, CTG was brand new on the scene, and we were all still ignorant to how terrible Taylor Kelly was. Ah, memories.
Since, Arizona State has risen from the ashes left behind by Dennis Erickson into the double digit winning, PAC-12 power you see before you. Oregon, on the other hand, has been nothing, but consistent; finishing second in the nation in 2012 and 2014.
Despite missing reigning Heisman trophy winner Marcus Mariota the past two years, Arizona State will finally get their long awaited second test against the
Mighty Fighting Ducks. A close game shows how far the Sun Devils have come in just a couple short years. A win over the defending Rose Bowl champions would place themselves directly in the National Title conversation.
2. UCLA Bruins
Remember that time the Bruins carved their school initials into Sun Devil Stadium's midfield pitchfork and then proceed to drag us up and down the field like an FCS school playing the SEC in November? Trust me folks, I'm not bitter. That happened 266 days ago; I'm over it.
Now, I can't say the same about the Devils. The meteoric resurgence of these two programs has closely coincided with one another and it's obvious neither side appreciates the comparison. Don't be surprised if you see some extra curricular activities before and after the whistle on game day.
Was there ever any doubt? The Sun Devils and Wildcats have been trading heavyweight blows ever since U of A fans burnt "No 200" at Sun Devil Stadium's midfield in 1958. This year will be no different.
Arizona State looks to avenge last year's loss in Tucson which saw the Wildcats run Taylor Kelly from the game and dash our chances at a return bid to the PAC-12 Championship. The Wildcats come to Tempe with a bitter taste in their mouth as their basketball team's last visits have ended in defeat.
In the words of the immortal Chris Pontius, "it's gonna be a bloodbath."