Double the Fun

Arizona State's victory over No. 18 California on Saturday night was momentous on two fronts. For the first time in years, Arizona State is relevant in the BCS picture. After finally beating a "ranked" opponent, the Sun Devils got the proverbial monkey off their back.

The win gave ASU sole possession of first place in the Pac-10 standings (after UCLA lost), and now critics around the country are seeing that this team is legitimate. With each win, the team's confidence grows exponentially.

But the added bonus for the Sun Devils on Saturday was the fact that they were hosting several high-profile recruits. The scenario could not have played out any better. A packed stadium was rocking. The Sun Devils put on quite a show with another thrilling second half performance. And to cap off the terrific night, the fans stormed the field afterward and celebrated with the players … like it was one large family. The newspaper photo of Sun Devil Kyle Williams being hoisted in the air by joyous fans gave me goose bumps.

It made a great impression on the recruits, and Dennis Erickson and his staff will find it a lot easier to seal some of these deals. This ASU team is fun to play for, the fans are enjoying it, and pretty soon everyone will want to be part of a program that is on the rise.

You had to be thrilled with the way the defense played again. Not counting the touchdown scored on Rudy Carpenter's fumble, ASU's defense only gave up 13 points … and none in the second half.

You had to be elated with the play of Keegan Herring and Dimitri Nance, both of whom shouldered the loss of Ryan Torain at tailback. And you had to be thrilled with the second half adjustments made by the coaches and players. Again, the Sun Devils proved to be second-half titans.

Of course, there is another big game this weekend … against Oregon on the road. This might be ASU's toughest task all season. The Ducks are one of the hottest teams in America and are coming off an impressive win over USC this past Saturday. Not to mention, Autzen Stadium is one of the toughest places to play in the entire country.

But if ASU wants to be a perennial top-25 team, then they better get used to games like this. And hopefully under Erickson's guidance, they will learn how to win games like this.

So the coaches and players had their moment to celebrate a great win over Cal and an 8-0 start. This was a victory that has the entire Valley fired up. And it's a win that will be paying huge dividends for years to come.

But another big test for ASU is on the horizon. It's so big in fact that ESPN's College GameDay is returning to Eugene for the contest. Hosts Chris Fowler, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit will be entertaining the locals, even though the game is being broadcast on FSN.

But this is what college football is all about … high stakes and big games. If you can't get fired up for a match up like this – no. 4 against no. 5 in the BCS standing – then you better check your pulse.

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