Nov 28, 2014; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils mascot Sparky and Arizona Wildcats mascot Wilbur wrestle during the second half at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
The latest ESPN preseason college football power rankings were released Monday morning and the latest numbers show Arizona State and Arizona in the Top 25.
The Sun Devils edged the defending Pac-12 South Champions, grabbing the No. 17 spot, while the Wildcats came in ranked N0. 18.
Last season, the Wildcats were a surprise. They finished 10-4 overall and 7-2 in Pac-12 play. They defeated the Sun Devils in the Territorial Cup Game in Tucson 42-35 to win the South and earn a trip to the Pac-12 Title Game.
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But, things did not go as Head Coach Rich Rodriguez and the Wildcats planned. They were destroyed by the Oregon Ducks in the Pac-12 Championship game and suffered national embarrassment in the Fiesta Bowl thanks to efforts from Boise State.
After a massive collapse such as that at the end of the season, you would assume the Wildcats would want to erase those memories from existence.
But, Rodriguez told ESPN he doesn’t want his guys to forget. In fact, he wants them to recall every single moment of it as motivation to get back to where they were.
But, they’ll have to match up against a competitive PAC-12 South that includes the Sun Devils.
Arizona State enters 2015 as “one of the most consistent teams in the country,” according to ESPN.
With seven starters back on defense and Quarterback Mike Bercovici back in the pocket for ASU, the Sun Devils definitely have a shot at another PAC-12 South Championship under Todd Graham.
Last season, the Sun Devils finished 10-3 overall (6-3 Pac-12) and defeated Duke 36-31 in the Sun Bowl.
They had a shot at taking the Pac-12 South for the second consecutive year after winning five games in a row mid-season to push their record to 8-1.
But a gut-wrenching loss to Oregon State on the road snapped their winning streak and the Sun Devils dropped two of their last three games and fell out of playoff contention.
Things look promising in the upcoming season. After all, ASU defeated USC, Stanford and Notre Dame last season and don’t have nearly as tough a schedule in 2015.
They do face Texas A&M in the opener on September 5th in Houston though. That’ll be a crucial game as the Sun Devils look to start the season with a win.
But the latest numbers only give the Sun Devils a 34% chance to win the game.
So, it’ll be interesting to see how things play out as we near the start of the college football season.
Among the leaders of the ESPN rankings, Ohio State, TCU, Auburn, Baylor and Alabama round out the top five.
Here is the complete list: ESPN Preseason Top 25 Power Rankings