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Sun Devils Hope to Exorcise Demons of Past vs. UNLV

Yes, that ASU loss to UNLV years ago still resonates with much of the fan base.
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Almost 13 years to the date, Arizona State Sun Devil fans can recall the day like it was yesterday. 

Arizona State, off to a strong 2-0 start in 2008, hosted the UNLV Rebels at Sun Devil Stadium with nearly 60,000 in attendance on a Saturday night. Hopes for a repeat as Pac-10 co-champions after a successful 2007 campaign were high under head coach Dennis Erickson. 

With a date against No. 2 ranked Georgia the following weekend and ASU entering the matchup as heavy favorites to reach 3-0, the Sun Devils broke the No. 1 rule when playing a team the public deems "inferior" to them: Arizona State overlooked them. 

That certainly wasn't the case when ASU held a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter against UNLV with less than 10 minutes remaining. A 20-yard Rebels field goal was converted successfully to draw within seven points with 6:28 left to play. 

UNLV got the ball back, and with 18 seconds remaining in the game, receiver Phillip Payne caught a one-handed touchdown pass to effectively put the game into overtime. A blocked ASU field goal in overtime sealed the deal: 13th-ranked Arizona State had fallen to unranked UNLV 23-20, becoming the first of six consecutive losses for ASU that season.

Much has changed for both programs since then. Sun Devils quarterback Jayden Daniels was just 7-years-old at the time of the upset, and current head coach Herm Edwards was coaching the Kansas City Chiefs. It's likely that an overwhelming portion of the roster has no clue about that September night. 

However, as the Sun Devils prepare to host UNLV for the first time since that fateful upset 13 years ago this Saturday in Tempe, a majority of the fan base will strut into Sun Devil Stadium with those memories in the back of their minds. 

It was a lesson the Sun Devils learned the hard way: Never overlook an opponent. 

The past is in the past, yet the time is now for Arizona State to put the the pedal to the floor after defeating Southern Utah 41-14 last week. ASU fields what many believe to be their best squad in recent memory, with hopes and dreams of being surrounded by confetti in Allegiant Stadium come December. 

Those goals are accomplished one game at a time, and despite future matchups with USC, Washington and Utah, the Sun Devils' most important game is simply whoever they play that week. That's the attitude Edwards and the rest of the staff will hammer into the minds of their team as they prepare for UNLV.

A win against the Rebels will surely help put a lot of bad tastes and memories for fans to rest from the last and only time Arizona State played them. For ASU's football team, the "one-game-at-a-time" mantra would result in their biggest win of the year to date. 

Young or old. Current ASU student or Sun Devil alumni. Whatever your position may be, an Arizona State victory on Saturday night would do much good for the entire fan base. 

Donnie Druin is a Deputy Editor with AllSunDevils. Follow Donnie on Twitter @DonnieDruin, and AllSunDevils @AllSunDevils. Like and follow AllSunDevils on Facebook, and for more ASU news visit