Rice: Despite Recent History, Sun Devils Have Raised Expectations for 2020

With a a win over USC, ASU could end its seven-year Pac-12 Championship game drought

Posted on October 13, 2020

Wills Rice
  By Wills Rice of Dash Sports TV for SportsPac12

Sun Devil fans have been waiting for a sports year like this for many years.  This year, the Devils have a potential Top-25 basketball and football team, a star quarterback, 5-star basketball recruits and, realistic or not, high expectations.

So, the question needs to be asked, What are realistic expectations for this Sun Devil football squad? To set realistic expectations, you first have to recognize a team’s history.

Arizona State has won 17 conference championships, but only one in this millennium, and it was before the Pac-10 expanded to the Pac-12 in 2011.  They appeared in the championship game once in 2013, but suffered a blowout loss to Stanford.

Frank Kush | asunow.asu.edu

One factor ASU has that a majority of other schools do not, is the high caliber (at least, in name) of head coaches. Among them are Frank Kush, whom the field is named after, Bruce Synder, Dirk Koetter, Dennis Erickson, and now Herm Edwards. 

But with all these names, ASU boasts just a 619-395-24 record, or a .608 win percentage, with a 15-16-1 record in bowl games.  By comparison, USC’s all time record is 850-350-54, good for .701 win percentage.

ASU tops Michigan in the 1987 Rose Bowl | sports360az.com

Lifelong Devil fans may have seen the one Rose Bowl in 1987, a victory over Michigan, but other than that, the Saturdays of the ASU faithful have been filled with average to above average football.  

We have seen spurts of recent success under Coach Todd Graham with two 10-win seasons and finishing both years in the AP Top 15. 

After those two years, it’s fair to say the expectations for Arizona State was the highest they had been in recent memory. Kirk Herbstreit picked Mike Bercovicci and the Sun Devils to not only win the Pac-12 but make the college football playoff.

As all fans know, that season resulted in a 6-7 record and a loss in the Cactus Bowl, despite being played in Phoenix. This was followed up by 5-7 and 7-6 seasons, which ultimately led to Todd Graham’s removal as head coach.

Edwards | arizonasports.com

We are now headed into Year Three of the Herm Edwards era, and although the recruiting has been fantastic, recruiting does not win games on the field.  After being 7-6 and 8-5, things look to be on the up swing for the Devils. 

So, how do fans set realistic expectations for this season?

If you’re a fan of baseball, it’s hard to gauge what “success” means for your team, and I think its going to be very similar this Pac-12 season. A six-game season could result in a 4-2 record,  a disappointment in the minds of some teams.

My expectations may seem vague, but remember, I think the Devils finish the regular season 5-1.

Jayden Daniels | thesundevils.com

Starting at the top, Jayden Daniels needs to come out and cement himself as a First-Round draft pick. He does not need to declare himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the country, as he still has his junior season for that, but the Sun Devils need Daniels to take that next step.

Second, ASU must go AT LEAST 1-1 against Utah and USC.  This is simple, going 0-2 against these teams would automatically eliminate you from Pac-12 South contention.  Edwards and the Sun Devils need to maintain a tie breaker with these two, meaning if they lose to USC but beat Utah, they then need Utah to defeat USC to create a three way tiebreaker and keep their title hopes alive. 

My last expectation for the Devils this season is a football cliche, but they need to create turnovers. 

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in the NFL, “the team that wins the turnover battle wins more than 75% of the time.”  The two years the Devils had consecutive 10-win seasons, they were able to rush the passer and create turnovers. 

Any fan remembers the game at home vs #10 Notre Dame where the Devils forced five turnovers including two different interceptions returned for a touchdown.

Can the Sun Devils continue to improve under Herm Edwards, or will the Sun Devil roller coaster of emotions continue?

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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