When the Pac-12 media poll came out in July, the Arizona State Sun Devils were picked to finish fifth in the Pac-12 South while the Colorado Buffaloes were picked to finish sixth.
On Saturday, the two teams will meet in Boulder in a battle for first place in the Pac-12 South, as the winner of the game will move to 3-1 in conference play and take control of their own destiny.
The 5-1 start for ASU and the 4-2 start for Colorado comes as a surprise to many people, but don't count ASU junior running back Demario Richard among them.
"I knew what we were going to do," Richard said. "I was telling you all, I knew what we were going to do. Everybody else doubted us, if you look at the situation, the two teams that are in first place in the South were voted sixth and fifth in the conference, in the Pac-12 South. Now the people who were doubting us, are all of a sudden, oh ya, ya, ya, but you voted us fifth and sixth for the conference in the South."
Richard has had faith in the Sun Devils' abilities since the start of spring ball, and that belief carried over into fall camp, even after ASU was picked to finish near the cellar in their own division. Richard said what most people saw as question marks --namely inexperience at the quarterback position, along the offensive line and in the secondary --were potential strengths of the team, and that he was never concerned.
"The offensive line, I told you what was going to happen with the offensive line," Richard said. "I told you what was going to happen with the DBs, I told you what was going to happen with Manny, and I don't understand why we're not getting the respect we deserve so we're going to have to take the respect."
While ASU has already used three different quarterbacks this season and may end up using a fourth player at the position on Saturday, Richard is proud of the way his teammates have responded to adversity and kept pushing in spite of doubters.
Even though the Sun Devils are one of just 20 power conference teams with one loss or fewer on the season, ASU has yet to crack the AP Top 25. While the Sun Devils sit at No. 24 in the Coaches' Poll, Richard said the Sun Devils are determined to go out and earn the respect he feels the program hasn't been granted.
"You all don't want to respect us, so we're going to go out and grab the respect and get the respect that we need," Richard said. "Make sure that all eyes are back on us how it was my freshman year. But we don't really care. Like I said, you've still got to come here and play us, you've still got to come here in a 50-60,000 seat soldout game, when the student section is on both ends that affected UCLA's kicker missing field goals, come on, man, you've still got to come here and play us. So we really don't care what nobody has to say. You come here and keep doubting us."