Dec 27, 2014; El Paso, TX, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Todd Graham during the second quarter as his team faces the Duke Blue Devils in the 2014 Sun Bowl at Sun Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports
Good news for Sun Devil football fans as the AP Preseason Poll was released over the weekend and starting the season ranked 15th: Arizona State University.
This marks the second year in a row that the Sun Devils were ranked to start the season. You may recall that last year, the Sun Devils started the season ranked No. 19.
The Sun Devils have not started the season ranked in back-to-back years since 2005-06, according to House of Sparky.
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The report also mentions that this is the highest ASU has been ranked since 2008 when the Sun Devils began the season at No. 15 as well.
Three other Pac-12 South teams made the poll as well, with the USC Trojans leading the group ranked N0. 8, UCLA ranked N0. 13, ASU ranked No. 15 and Arizona ranked N0. 22.
Two schools from the Pac-12 North also made the cut. The defending Pac-12 Champion Oregon Ducks came in ranked No. 7 and Stanford is ranked No. 21.
ASU enters the upcoming season with pretty high expectations. This has been evident in their relatively-high rankings in all the prior polls.
In the USA Today Amway Coaches Poll that was released last month, they were ranked 16th.
Rounding out the Top 10, the AP ranks the following teams in this order:
1. Ohio State
5. Michigan State
10. Florida State
ASU will host three ranked teams at Sun Devil Stadium this season – Oregon, USC and Arizona – with UCLA being the only ranked team they will face on the road.
The Sun Devils are, again, ranked higher than their in-state rivals, the Arizona Wildcats.
The Wildcats were a surprise last season, finishing 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.
They ended up choking in both the Pac-12 Championship game and the Fiesta Bowl.
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.