Thankfully, the Arizona State Sun Devils won't be visiting the state of Utah anytime soon.
After falling to the Utah Utes in dramatic fashion, Arizona State dropped to 5-2 on the season, and effectively removed themselves from the top of the Pac-12 South standings.
Feelings from the Sun Devils following the loss, as expected, were filled with frustration. The season is not over by any stretch of the imagination, yet the feeling of not controlling your own destiny (especially with what many believe to be a greatly talented team) doesn't sit well.
Head coach Herm Edwards offered this to say in response to what he would tell his players following the loss at Utah (quotes via 247 Sports):
“That we have five games left, and we don’t control our destiny. The only thing that we control is to win, and we have to find a way to win a game again. This is our second loss of the season. It’s a tough one, because you’re exactly right. If you win this game you can control your destiny, now we don’t have control of it.
"We do have control of this though, the ability to come back from this, when we play at home and win a football game again. These guys will take it hard. Coaches will take it hard. We got a bye week, we’ll do some things on the bye week, to try to do some things a little bit better. Practice a lot of the young guys. A lot of young guys had to play tonight. They were on a big stage, and some of them played OK, some of them didn’t.
"But that’s OK, that's just part of it. I just think going forward we’ve got a five-game season. The players know it. They’re hurt, the players are hurting, they are hurting right now.”
Arizona State, already down key contributors for the season with defensive linemen Travez Moore and Jermayne Lole, were also without defensive backs Chase Lucas and Evan Fields, along with receiver Johnny Wilson in Utah.
The current bye week gives those guys the perfect opportunity to rest up and be well- prepared to go, along with the numerous other players dealing with minor bumps and bruises.
Along with honing in on physical health, the staff and players also receive a mental break from the grind of game-week preparation.
Coaches, from Edwards to coordinators Zak Hill and Antonio Pierce, will also get the opportunity to better understand what went wrong in a loss that featured 28 unanswered points in the second half of the game.
The Sun Devils' next two games are at Sun Devil Stadium, where they remain undefeated this season. Arizona State takes on Washington State (Oct. 30) and USC (Nov. 6) during that two-game stretch, with both programs possessing a combined 5-5 record in conference play.
Winnable? Absolutely. The two-game homestand is followed by a two-game road trip to Washington and Oregon State prior to returning home for the season finale against Arizona.
Yet that's looking too far ahead, as Arizona State has no time or room to be caught doing anything other than focusing on the task at hand.
For now, that's taking advantage of a bye week with just five games left on the schedule. Much can happen during that stretch, and if you're Arizona State, you can only control the games you play.
Whether it be mentally or physically, the Sun Devils have the perfect opportunity to rethink, regroup and hopefully reload to salvage what many fans still believe can be a special season.