Rice: 7-Game Schedule does ASU No Favors, but Sun Devils Set to Surprise

Arizona State will need some breaks with the Conference protecting Oregon and USC

Posted on October 6, 2020

Wills Rice
  By Wills Rice of Dash Sports TV for SportsPac12

Well, Sun Devil faithful, the wait is finally over. The seven game, conference-only schedule has been released. 

Once again, the initial reaction is disappointment in the Pac-12 and commissioner Larry Scott. The Conference went into the schedule release knowing it must do everything in its power to support the best teams in the Pac. Scott & Co. helped those top teams, but not in the way you might think.

Each team will match up with one team outside of their division, meaning every team in the Pac-12 South will play one different Pac-12 North team. We speculated on the potential of Oregon vs USC, or even Washington vs USC, to bolster the strength of schedule for the Conference’s premier teams.

Having studied the schedule, one thing is sure:  The Conference is betting on an Oregon or a USC going undefeated and getting in the College Football Playoff based on record rather than their strength of schedule.

Crossover Games
Cal at Arizona State
UCLA at Oregon
Washington State at USC
Arizona at Washington
Colorado at Stanford
Oregon State at Utah

Although they did not draw one of the premier teams in the conference, the Sun Devils have been presented with a schedule that gives them an opportunity to make some noise.

Before I dive into how I think Arizona State will finish this season, I want to preface it by noting that ASU has a knack for knocking off teams that are substantially better than them, despite falling to lesser talented teams.

Week 1 — at USC

USC vs. ASU at Sun Devil Stadium | Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Sun Devils will open up the year with a WIN on the road at the Trojans. 

A year ago, the Trojans marched into Sun Devil stadium facing an ASU team that played its only game without Jayden Daniels.  Slovis and USC scored four touchdowns in the first quarter and built up an insurmountable lead, even though the Trojans only hit one field goal the rest of the game.  But things will be different this year with Daniels. Final Score: 34-31 Sun Devils WIN.

Week 2 — vs Cal

ASU vs Cal  in Berkeley. | Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This one crossover game is very intriguing for many reasons. Last year, the Devils played one of their worst games of the year against an undefeated Cal team.  Daniels only threw for 174 yards and looked confused for much of the game.  Saying that, this was one of the first games in Jayden Daniels’ career.  If it weren’t for Cal starting QB Chase Garbers falling to injury, this game most likely would have ended in a Devils’ loss. Devils WIN: 31-17.

Week 3 — at Colorado

ASU hosts Colorado in Tempe. | Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Before anyone tells you different, this will be a close game. Colorado vs Arizona State has been a slugfest year in and year out.  Thankfully, Steven Montez and Laviska Shenault Jr. are gone and I do not think they have the weapons to matchup with ASU late. Devils WIN 24-21.

Week 4 — vs Utah

ASU at Utah last season. | Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images

I do not want to pretend that I am a Utah expert.  You know every time the Utes take the field the defense will be flying and they will be pressuring the quarterback all game. That being said, this game will be the product of another team missing their starting quarterback and running back from last year.  Devils WIN 24-17.

Week 5 — vs UCLA

ASU at UCLA in 2019 | Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

At this point, if the Sun Devils are 4-0, the College Football Playoff is not a pipe dream, but a legitimate chance. With that, this game is where it falls apart for the Devils. Historically, they struggle with mobile quarterbackss. Just look at what UCLA did last year, absolutely throttling a much more talented Sun Devils roster. Devils LOSE 35-31.

Week 6 — at Arizona

ASU vs Arizona in Tempe | Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Arizona is my pick to come dead last in the Pac-12, and I’m curious to see if they win a game. Three of their four leading tacklers and starting left guard from last year have transferred—from a team that was already very bad.  ASU comes up big, and Kevin Sumlin is fired following the game.  Devils WIN 45-21.

Week 7 — Pac-12 Championship?

Oregon after the 2019 Pac-12 Championship game | goducks.com/Oregon Athletics

With a 5-1 record and a win over USC and Utah, the head-to-head tiebreaker would favor the Devils and most likely set them up for a date with Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game, providing a revenge game for the Ducks.

Final Oregon 42- 28 ASU. 

This would leave Arizona State with a 5-2 record to finish the season, and depending how bowl games are drawn, a potential Alamo Bowl trip for the Devils.

You can watch Rice’s Devil Dash Sports Talk Show on Dash Sports TV, and read his other sports stories and columns at Cronkite Sports.

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