What do these former Sun Devil quarterbacks all have in common?
That's right, they all failed to beat USC. Beginning in 2000, that group amassed an inglorious 0-11 mark against the Trojans, relegating Arizona State to perpetual red-headed stepchild status in the final years of the Pac-10. Then everything changed.
The Pac-10 went away, replaced by the dual-division Pac-12.
The quarterbacks who were powerless in the face of Trojans' might were replaced by a gunslinger from Montana, with the height of Goliath and the accuracy of David.
As the Greeks did in 1184 BC, so did Brock Osweiler in 2011-they brought about the fall of Troy.
On a warm Saturday evening in the desert, with a dusty haboob in the air, the Sun Devils hosted the No. 23 Trojans in a key Pac-12 South division showdown. With Osweiler's steadying presence at the forefront, the Devils were finally able to exorcise their demon and trounced the Trojans 43-22.
The win moved the Sun Devils to 3-1 on the season, with a 1-0 conference mark. More importantly, it puts the team into a great position to make a run at the Pac-12 South championship as September ends.
It's time for Brocktoberfest.
The month of October will determine whether this Arizona State team will be playing for the conference crown on December 2nd or playing in some middling bowl game a few weeks later.
It begins with a trap game on October 1st against lowly Oregon State. The Beavers opened the season by losing in overtime to Sacramento State, an FCS team that lost their next two games to Southern Utah and Weber State by a combined score of 84-31. Oregon State is still looking for their first win on the season, but make no mistake, this is a dangerous game for ASU. Coming off the emotional high of the USC victory and another big game looming next week, the Devils can't afford to get caught looking into the future (see: the Illinois game).
Then comes the big one on October 8th. ASU travels to Rice-Eccles Stadium to take on Pac-12 South rival Utah. This game combines a tough team and the road, two things that have given the Sun Devils fits in the past. A victory here is paramount to ASU's South division title hopes. If they can pull off the road win, they will have defeated their top two competitors for that crown.
The road trip continues the next week when they head to Eugene to battle the Oregon Ducks. Even the most ardent ASU supporter can't be disappointed in anything other than a blowout loss against one of the elite teams in the nation in one of the most difficult stadiums in the country. As long as the Sun Devils are able to put on a strong showing and avoid any major injuries, this game against a North division titan may only serve as a prelude to a rematch in December.
The restful healing of the bye week follows, which should help ASU be in prime position to trounce a bad Colorado team within the friendly confines of Sun Devil Stadium.
It's critical that the Sun Devils go 3-1 in the month. With a November schedule that should see them as hefty favorites in each game-on the road at UCLA and Washington State and home for Arizona and Cal-October will define if the Devils are a legitimate 10-win power or just another team scraping and clawing their way to 8-wins and hoping some breaks fall their way.
Thankfully, they have Osweiler.
Only six starts into his career, the junior quarterback has already developed a reputation for being a clutch performer.
In the two games this season against ranked competition at the time-No. 19 Missouri and No. 23 USC-Osweiler has been nothing short of terrific. He's completed over 76-percent of his passes for 576 yards, five touchdowns and has yet to throw an interception. Osweiler has even rushed for 52 yards and another touchdown. That's the performance of a winner.
While ASU has had some talented players under center during their losing streak, none have possessed the combination of dynamic physical skills and leadership ability that Osweiler does. While past quarterbacks were more concerned about style, Osweiler knows that substance wins games.
That fact was perfectly illustrated during last season's during the epic double-overtime win in Tucson against Arizona.
While he struggled most of the game passing the ball, Osweiler continue to battle and rally his team to do whatever it took to win. He shook off his bad throws and continued to focus at the task at hand. He made key plays running the ball. He never let his teammates lose sight of what needed to be done. Quite simply, he did what all great quarterbacks do-lead his team to victory.
That was again on display during last Saturday's win.
After a great first half in which the Devils took a 21-9 lead into the half, the Trojans came out on fire. Dominating the Arizona State defense on the ground, USC roared back to take a 22-21 lead late in the third quarter.
Time to panic?
Hardly. In Brock we trust.
Osweiler calmly and methodically led the Devils offense to a pair of touchdowns to regain the lead, and watched with jubilation as Shelley Lyons capped the victory with his interception return for a touchdown with just under seven minutes remaining in the game.
The road ahead is one that presents many challenges for the team, but they are fortunate to have a leader like Osweiler at the helm. While his stellar play helped keep him off the list your read at the beginning, he's well on his way to joining another.
Danny White, Jeff Van Raaphorst, Jake Plummer.