Arizona State coach Todd Graham pointed to his team's games against Utah and California as critical points of the season, measuring sticks to see how far it might able to go.
The Sun Devils got through both with victories and find themselves atop the Pac-12 South, the preseason goal of a Pac-12 championship within reach.
The next step will be to build off those successes.
Rested and rejuvenated after its bye week, Arizona State faces a crucial road game against Colorado on Thursday night before closing with five teams that are or were previously ranked.
Stay focused or the Sun Devils could end up with another disappointing stagger to the finish like they had last season.