Photo courtesy of Arizona State athletics
Arizona State improved from 7-6 to 8-5 in the second season under head coach Herm Edwards in 2019.
The Sun Devils closed the season on a 3-game winning streak and hope to make a leap forward in 2020. Arizona State aims for its first outright conference title since 1996. The good news is that it has a navigable schedule.
What Are the Odds?
If one looks to Las Vegas, Sports Betting Dime has the Sun Devils’ Pac-12 title odds at 5-to-1. That is second only to Oregon’s 5-to-2 odds.
Predicting a Pac-12 title for Arizona State isn’t going that far out on a limb. Two of its Pac-12 South counterparts round out the top four odds, with USC coming in with 6-to-1 odds. Utah’s odds are set at 8-to-1.
Easing Into the Schedule
Arizona State has a relatively favorable schedule in regards to the spacing of its biggest opponents. The Sun Devils’ first two games of the season are against Northern Arizona and then at UNLV. Both are teams that the Sun Devils should handle easily.
In Week 3, the Cougars of BYU come to Tempe. BYU and Arizona State match up pretty well with each other. This one however, is at Sun Devil Stadium. Under Edwards, the Sun Devils are 10-3 at home.
Showdown for the South
The Sun Devils’ 3-0 start could set up what will likely act as the Pac-12 South decider as the season progresses. On Sept. 26, ASU travels to USC. This match-up between quarterbacks Kedon Slovis of USC and Arizona State’s Jayden Daniels will be must-see TV. The duel pits two of the conference’s best quarterbacks head-to-head. Arizona State won a 38-35 shootout in its last trip to the L.A. Coliseum.
Oregon State the next week serves as sort of breather before the Sun Devils try to avenge a disappointing 2019 loss to UCLA. They get the Bruins at home and should win by at least two touchdowns. The next two games are on the road — first in Boulder to face Colorado, then to Washington State. These are two games where the Sun Devils could be on upset alert. Arizona State opens the month of November by hosting California.
Mark Your Calendars
The contest that all Arizona State fans should have circled comes on Nov. 13. That comes against Oregon at Autzen Stadium.
In what could be a Pac-12 Championship preview, Autzen Stadium has proven to be an incredibly tough place to play for the road team. The Sun Devils should come into the game with two or fewer losses and a lot of momentum. The strong finish to 2019 for Arizona State was spurred by a 31-28 victory over the Ducks in Tempe.
Either way this one plays out, the Sun Devils should be firmly in the driver’s seat in the South and better prepared for a potential rematch at the conclusion of the regular season. Edwards and staff have prepared very well in two contests with the Ducks. Getting two chances at Oregon in one season should bode well for Arizona State.
The Home Stretch
After traveling to Eugene, Arizona State won’t leave the state again. The Sun Devils host Utah on Senior Day. In the regular season, Arizona State will look to win a fourth straight Territorial Cup over rival Arizona, coached by Kevin Sumlin.
After a strong finish to 2019, Arizona State will have the luxury of easing into its schedule in 2020. The Sun Devils will have to travel to face both USC and Oregon. The Sun Devils will get Utah and California at home.
Of the nine Pac-12 teams that Arizona State faces in 2020, only four finished with an overall winning record last season. Arizona State’s presumed biggest competition in the South, USC, plays a tougher crossover schedule. The Trojans will travel to Oregon and Utah. They’ll also host Washington.