‘Speak softly and carry a big stick.' -Teddy Roosevelt
Many lessons can be derived from the heroes of history, but that doesn't mean you have to take their wisdom as sacrosanct. Brock Osweiler and the Sun Devils decided during fall camp that they would speak boldly, but ASU had to wait until Friday night against Missouri to prove that they could walk the walk.
The biggest hint of the Sun Devil swagger was apparent during ASU's media day, where a dozen or so Devils spoke with members of the media in preparation for the regular season.
"The mindset of this team is unbelievable right now. The confidence we have, the energy, the family atmosphere that we've created around the building -- there's a lot of really special things going on around here," Osweiler said a month ago. "We're not destined for a 6-6 bowl game. We're not destined for a 7-5 bowl game. We know this team can do bigger things."
Not only did the ASU players feel confident about their bowl prospects, but they truly believe that they can play in the BCS National Championship Game in New Orleans in January 2012. Going to the Pac-12 Championship Game isn't the goal; it is solely a worthy stepping stone in a season of destiny for these athletes.
"We're going to a BCS game, I know that much," wide receiver Gerell Robinson said, "and then the Pac-12 championship game."
College athletes are expected to talk a big game, believing fully in their ability to defeat the opponent. For a Sun Devils team that hasn't been to a bowl game since the 2007 season, however, the talk seemed over the top.
Little could be determined about this team during their season opener against UC Davis, demolishing a lesser opponent by 34 points while playing vanilla schemes on both sides of the ball. All that was for certain was that this team believed in itself, showing confidence and unity. In essence, we saw the development of a team.
Naturally, the Missouri Tigers and their Big XII pedigree provided a much stiffer challenge on September 9, but the fans and team both responded. On a night where lightning slashed through the sky and rain fell on a sellout crowd of 70,000+, ASU overcame special teams and defensive issues to win their first game over a ranked opponent since the aforementioned 2007 season.
Fans of the team had a strange sense of déjà vu as they watched their team give up a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, only to win in an overtime thriller.
The final play of the game, a fourth down incomplete pass by Missouri quarterback James Franklin, was the loudest that I've ever heard Sun Devil Stadium. The upper deck was literally shaking as the entire crowd rose up to support the team, and a deafening roar overcame the stadium.
The Devils didn't speak softly during the preseason, and in the end the fans decided to join them. Together, the nation took notice - the Sun Devils have arrived, an imperfect win over a Big XII power that allows ASU, at least for one more week, to dream big.