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Arizona State Sun Devils

SI's Mandel: ASU would have a 'strong case' to be part of College Football Playoff

Arizona State's Carl Bradford, middle, celebrates a win over Arizona with teammate Davon Coleman (43) and mascot Sparky after an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013, in Tempe, Ariz. Arizona State defeated Arizona 58-21. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The four-team College Football Playoff may be coming a season too late for the Arizona State Sun Devils.

Had the format been around this season, there is a good chance ASU would be on the precipice of a playoff spot.

Monday, SI.com's Stewart Mandel wrote that should the Sun Devils beat Stanford Saturday and improve to 11-2, they would be champions of one of the nation's two toughest conferences.

They would also hold an eight-game winning streak and boast a strong nonconference schedule, beating 9-3 Wisconsin (32-30 on Sept. 14) and losing to 8-4 Notre Dame (37-34 on Oct. 5). All metrics say Arizona State has played one of the toughest schedules in the country. Here's guessing the committee would view them much more favorably than this season's pollsters.

Timing is everything, right?

A guest of Burns and Gambo's Tuesday, Mandel elaborated on his thinking.

"Obviously it depends on what else happens this weekend, but I think that's going to be one of the fascinating things about this new system," he said. "It's going to change what we currently consider to be the pool of teams."

Mandel added that the current system leads to a team basically needing to go undefeated to reach the national championship game, and next year that won't necessarily be the case.

"There's really no mind paid to, for instance, ASU has played a much tougher schedule, much tougher schedule than Ohio State or Florida State," he said. "So yeah, I think that a committee that's truly dedicated to looking at a team's overall body of work would see that ASU first of all, beat Wisconsin out of conference, scheduled tough -- scheduled Wisconsin and Notre Dame out of conference -- and then played a nine-game, actually a 10-game conference schedule where they played all the top teams in the league except Oregon, I think they'd have a strong case to be made to be in the top four depending on who else is in that pool."

Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, that possibility will not be available to them until next season. Though they are ranked 11th in the BCS standings now, a win over Stanford will not get them into the championship game.

Still, few in Tempe would likely go the Oregon route and complain about the Rose Bowl, so the season would most definitely go down as a success.

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