Is Cal a must win game for ASU?

As the Arizona State Sun Devils football team prepares to take on a really good football team, I have to stop and ask myself, are we in 2018 or 2019?

2018 was Herm Edwards first year as head coach and ASU did better than many thought. A lot of critics said Herm had been away too long and the game changed too much. Others said the way the SunDevils layered the coaching staff put too many hands in the pot. 

Fortunately all of the doubters were proved to be wrong. 

ASU beat high powered Michigan State in the 2nd game of the season and jumped into the National rankings. However, that was short lived as they lost the next two games to a good San Diego State team and a ranked Washington team. Losing both on the games on road. 

They followed that with a 3-game winning streak, another loss and win followed by a loss in the Vegas bowl to end the season 7 – 6.

Now, 2019 sets up the same. This time ASU got 2 victories before facing Michigan State in East Lansing and again winning and starting the season 3 – 0. 

The ranked Sun Devils returned home ranked only to lose to Pac-12 opponent Colorado. 

Before the game I asked Edwards what the team learned from last season and would the returning players have the ears of the younger players to help ensure the same fate wouldn’t occur? He said “Not only would the players do it but the coaches will as well.”

So much for best laid plans. 

So they travel to Cal to take on a ranked team that is coming off a big win of their own, beating Ole Miss on the road. 

The Sun Devils then follow this up with alternating non-ranked (winnable) opponents and ranked (tougher) opponents to end the season. If that were to alternate wins and loses, they would end up with record of 7 – 5 going into their bowl game. 

And what is that? The exact same season as last year. And even though one could argue the season would be better because they did it with a young team this year, at the end of the day the results are the same. 

That’s why I don’t believe in must win games when we are talking about the fifth game of the season, but guess what? This is a must win game. 

By beating Cal, the Sun Devils will prove to themselves that Colorado was a slip and they can continue beating good teams on the road. 

Simply put, the season starts against Cal.

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