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Andrew Greif | The Oregonian | July 31, 2015

'Big-boy pants'

  Arizona State was picked to finish second in the Pac-12 South, behind USC.

BURBANK, Calif. -- Arizona State showed up to the Pac-12 Conference's football media days Thursday morning wearing its new adidas uniforms.

To complete the look, and to compete in the rugged South Division, the Sun Devils hope they'll soon get a shipment of "big-boy pants," too.

"These games are dogfights," senior quarterback Mike Bercovici said from the Warner Bros. Studios lot. "You always put on your big-boy pants when you see a team like that."

Bercovici was speaking specifically of USC, who was picked by a poll of media to win the South and the conference title in 2015 (the Sun Devils were picked second in the South, while Oregon is picked to win the North). But he could have been discussing the daunting preparation any number of teams on the Sun Devils' schedule this fall.

Bercovici says the Sun Devils could be "overlooked." The Sun Devils are picked to finish behind USC in the Pac-12 South.

ASU opens against Texas A&M in Houston on Sept. 5, and within the first month plays USC and UCLA on consecutive weekends.

Four of the South's six team are ranked in the preseason USA Today coaches poll, which was released Thursday. USC is ranked 10th, UCLA 14th, Arizona State 16th and reigning South champ Arizona is 22nd.

Arizona State coach Todd Graham on the strength of the Pac-12 Graham spoke Thursday at Pac-12 football media days.

"Oregon played for a national championship last year, but didn't go undefeated through our league. So that tells you," said coach Todd Graham, who called this ASU team the best since he came to Tempe in 2012. "I think the league is going to be a lot better this year than it was last year.

It's a tough road for the Sun Devils and Bercovici, though neither showed it Thursday. Bercovici enters his first season as starter in his fifth year on campus after throwing for 1,445 yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions in relief of an injured Taylor Kelly last season.

"You can call it a swagger, it's in our blood," he said. "When you step into the team room there's one purpose and it's national championships. ... Credit to coach Graham. You can call it brainwashing, or you can call it a mentality. That's something he's taught us."

This article was written by Andrew Greif from The Oregonian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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