(Photo: Sun Devil Athletics)
The Arizona State Sun Devils are on the doorstep of inclusion in the four-team group that is slated to advance to the first-ever College Football Playoff, as the team moved up three spots into the No. 6 slot in the latest rankings released by the CFB Playoff selection committee. The Sun Devils got the boost in the rankings after defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday, 55-31, which dropped the Irish from No. 10 to No. 18.
Just four more sets of rankings will be released by the committee, as the final set will be released on Dec. 7 and will officially decide the matchups for the semifinal games to be played on New Years Day. Two will be paired in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., while the other two will face off in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, La.
While still on the outside of the four-team field, there’s no reason for nail-biting for the Sun Devils. The path is clear, and it’s obvious for ASU that four more wins will undoubtedly be enough to earn a postseason berth. Those four wins will have to come against unranked Oregon State and Washington State, before ASU finishes the year with the No. 14 Arizona Wildcats and No. 2 Oregon Ducks.
If ASU loses one of its final two games, the likely destination for the Sun Devils would be the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz. on Wednesday, Dec. 31. Arizona State would go to the game as a BCS at-large team and face another at-large team, likely from the Big 12 Conference, as a team from the conference has gone to each of the last eight Fiesta Bowls.
Arizona State was the reason for the creation of the Fiesta Bowl, as the school had frustrations with its inability to secure elite bowl berths, despite strong seasons that left the team high in the national rankings. Sun Devil Stadium played host to the Fiesta Bowl from its creation in 1971 until it was moved to University of Phoenix Stadium in 2006. ASU played in four of the first five Fiesta Bowl matchups and six total, but hasn’t been selected for the game since 1983.
Of course, the goal for ASU is to avoid the Fiesta Bowl, win the next four and earn a spot in the CFB Playoff. Still ahead of them with three more weeks of regular season play followed by conference championships, are:
- Mississippi State
- Florida State
After a string of six consecutive games against teams that were ranked in the Associated Press Poll at some point during the 2014 season, the Sun Devils will next travel to face the struggling Oregon State Beavers. The team has lost four consecutive games, including losses to California and Washington State, and will be heavy underdogs when ASU travels to Corvallis, Ore.
If ASU manages to earn a sixth consecutive victory, there’s a definitive possibility that it will be enough to move the team into the top five of the CFB Playoff rankings, as Mississippi State and Alabama are scheduled to face each other on Saturday, which will almost certainly drop one of the teams from inclusion in the four-team playoff bracket.
Arizona State is scheduled to kickoff against Oregon State at 8:45 p.m. MT on Saturday and will be televised on ESPN.