History Lesson: Don’t Sleep On ‘Cats, Devils In South

Arizona Sports News online

The only known commodity of the upcoming Pac-12 football season as a whole is well, the unknown.

Sure, few will argue the overall skill and athleticism of USC and UCLA or the fact Stanford will once again be talented,  well-coached and physical at the line of scrimmage but in many ways this fall could be a mystery.

The Arizona State Sun Devils and Arizona Wildcats find themselves, at least from the media’s perspective, tucked in the middle half of the Pac-12 South.

One college football analyst doesn’t necessarily believe that’s such a bad thing.

“When I look at the Pac-12 South,” FOX Sports lead analyst Joel Klatt told Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat in a recent phone interview. “I think that a game here or there goes in the right direction I Arizona State or Arizona could be right there [in contention].”

Klatt says recent history has proven it’s not uncommon for a “dark horse” to make a run a conference title in the South just like the Wildcats did in 2014.

“I think they’re in a very similar position now,” he said. “I happen to think Arizona is going to be a very decent team. I know there’s been some turmoil. I know there’s been some changeover but the bottom line for me is Rich [Rodriguez] always puts a competitive team on the field.”

He likes the experience the ‘Cats have back in key positions which typically lends itself to winning close games, especially in the ultra-competitive Pac-12.

As others have said, the Sun Devils low expectations could be the perfect remedy coming off a disappointing 6-7 season last fall.

“While on the surface it looks like Arizona State may struggle a little bit, you just never know,” Klatt said. “Todd [Graham] has been a wonderful coach for a number of years. I think that if they can run the football like they have in the past they’re going to have a chance…they’re going to be right there, as well.”

A Valley native, Eric has had a passion for the Arizona sports scene since an early age. He has covered some of the biggest events including Super Bowls, national championships and the NBA and MLB playoffs in his near 20 years in local media.