Sacramento State - ASU TV viewer guide

Game day: September 5, 7 p.m. PT

Stadium: Sun Devil Stadium – Tempe, Ariz.

Sacramento State - ASU TV information: Pac-12 Networks

Story lines: Arizona State wasn’t supposed to do much of anything in 2012. Ending 2011 on a five-game losing skid, losing their starting quarterback to the Denver Broncos and bringing in a new head coach, the Sun Devils were supposed to be in rebuilding mode. As such, not too many people had faith in the Forks: They were picked to finish fifth in the Pac-12 South (though three people did give them a first place vote); heck, even the venerable Ted Miller and Kevin Gemmell thought the Sun Devils were the 11th-best team in the Pac-12 last year.

Todd Graham had different plans, however, vowing to bring a culture of discipline to Tempe. It worked: he led ASU to a 5-1 start before finishing the campaign with a resounding victory over Navy in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl to get to 8-5 and give the Sun Devils their first winning season in five years. While some of the usual suspects like Brandon Magee played a key role in the turnaround season, there were also some very unlikely heroes. Nobody knew much about quarterback Taylor Kelly, that is, until he sprung up the depth chart to take the starting job and finish second in the Pac-12 in passing efficiency. Nobody knew much about former fullback Carl Bradford, that is, until he became the “Devilbacker” and was third in the Pac-12 in tackles for loss. (He’s a freak, and that’s a good thing.)

[Related: 2013 Arizona State football schedule]

With a solid foundation set, the Sun Devils have their eyes on a new prize – the Pac-12 Championship. To get there, however, they will have to play one of the most grueling four-week stretches in college football: home against Wisconsin, at Stanford and home for USC before heading out to Cowboys Stadium to take on Notre Dame. And that only gets Arizona State through the first week of October—an Oregon State-UCLA-Arizona back-to-back-to-back to end the season isn't exactly light, either.

[Related: Get tickets for the Sun Devils home football games]

It’s good that Todd Graham feels twice as prepared to take on this tough schedule, but his boys must first face Sacramento State before getting into the meat of 2013. Don’t think that because the Hornets are an FCS squad doesn’t mean that they will roll over for Arizona State on Sun Devil Club Night – just ask Oregon State and Colorado. Sac-Town’s Finest have knocked off the Beavers and Buffaloes on the road in back-to-back years and won’t shy away from the opportunity to make it three years in a row beating a Pac-12er to bring a little pride back to the Big Sky (there’s that conference again).

The Hornets will come into Tempe with a lot of experienced guys out there as well, entering fall camp with 17 returning starters.  A couple of guys to watch out for on the Sac State side of things are dual-threat quarterback Garrett Safron (2,540 yards and 22 touchdown passes in 2012) and linebacker Todd Davis, who will try to repeat as the team’s leading tackler (he had 103 of 'em in 2012).

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