ASU football dreaming big but first needs to wrap up a bowl berth in final home game

Arizona State running back Eno Benjamin jumps into the end zone for a touchdown against Utah in the second half on Nov. 3 at Sun Devil Stadium.

Good things typically happen for Arizona State football in seasons that include a sweep of USC and UCLA.

Like Rose Bowl appearances capping the 1986 and ’96 campaigns and a Pac-12 South title in 2013.

So perhaps a win over UCLA (2-7, 2-4 Pac-12) on Saturday, for ASU’s first sweep of the Los Angeles schools since 2013, would lead to a truly memorable season that seemed unreachable in mid-October.

At minimum, a third consecutive win would make the Sun Devils (5-4, 3-3) bowl-eligible in coach Herm Edwards’ first year and give 16 seniors, including quarterback Manny Wilkins, a victory in their final home game, which also could be the last Sun Devil Stadium appearance for star junior wide receiver N’Keal Harry should he leave early for the NFL.

By revving up its offense to score 38 points in successive weeks for wins over USC and Utah, ASU gave itself a chance for more than a low-level bowl. If the Sun Devils win out, they will be South champion and play in the Pac-12 Championship Game on Nov. 30. 

That scenario, though, also requires road wins Oregon on Nov. 17 and Arizona on Nov. 24 and, to be honest, ASU has no business looking that far ahead.

What the Sun Devils need most is a laser focus on the Bruins, who rank No. 100 or lower nationally in five major statistical categories including rush defense. Expect a steady diet of Eno Benjamin, the nation’s fifth leading rusher, until UCLA proves it can stop the sophomore.

Benjamin is 452 yards shy of the school single season rushing record that’s stood since 1972, an achievable milestone provided he stays healthy and ASU plays in a bowl. 

To clinch the postseason, especially given the uncertainties that come with being on the road, is a significant intermediary goal that should not be lost while dreaming of more.

Saturday’s game

UCLA at ASU

When: Noon.

Where: Sun Devil Stadium.

TV: Pac-12 Networks.

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