With the 2012 college football season in the books, it's never too soon to examine the top programs in the country heading into 2013.
Athlonsports.com got a head start and came out with its top 25 rankings for the upcoming college football season.
And sure enough, Arizona State made the list.
The Sun Devils are ranked No. 24, as one of five Pac-12 schools amongst the top in the country.
A two-point loss to UCLA in late October was all that separated Arizona State from a berth in the Pac-12 Championship this season. And with most of the core returning for 2013, Todd Graham's team should make a run at UCLA for the No. 1 spot in the South Division. The Sun Devils will need to find new weapons at receiver for quarterback Taylor Kelly, but sophomore running back DJ Foster is ready for a breakout campaign. The defense received good news when tackle (and likely All-American) Will Sutton returned to Tempe for his senior year. Arizona State catches a huge break in scheduling, as it misses Oregon in crossover play and hosts USC, Washington, Oregon State and Arizona - all crucial swing games for Pac-12 positioning.
Being a field goal away from a Pac-12 Championship appearance will linger in the minds of the returning Sun Devils, and a top ranking -- even if it is this early -- appears better than the perspective of the Sun Devils prior to the 2012 campaign.
After an over-achieving first season for ASU, coach Todd Graham is pleased to have Sutton, along with his core players, returning for 2013.
However, if early rankings are any indication, Graham and his Sun Devils will enter 2013 with high expectations.