Schedule and Odds
Arizona State had multiple chances to win the Pac-12 South last season, but came up short after they lost their last two road Games of the year at Oregon State and division winner Arizona, by seven points a piece. Once again, the South will come down to the final weeks of the season. Will the Sun Devils come out on the winning side this time around?
The Sun Devils are listed at odds of 8 to 1 at 5 dimes sportsbook to win the PAC-12. They are also listed as 4.5 point underdogs in their first Game against Texas A&M which will be played in Houston.
Despite losing Taylor Kelly, the Sun Devils will at least have experience returning at quarterback as Mike Bercovici filled in a number of times last year (186 pass attempts), most notably the Game-winning bomb at USC. The coaching staff is confident in Bercovici, but he will have to deal with the loss of top wide receiver Jaelen Strong (1,165 yards, 10 TDs). Even after spring, it was still a question of who would step into the No. 1 WR role. The good news is that the backfield is loaded with talent and that’s not even including last year’s leader D.J. Foster (1,081 rushing yards, 9 TDs). Foster will move exclusively to slot receiver with Demario Richard, Kalen Ballage and De’Chavon Hayes filling the running back depth chart. The offensive line loses their tackles from a year ago, but every other position is set. If the tackles can work themselves out, this will be a top offense once again.
Defensively, the Sun Devils really only lose two players, although they were both all-league performers in safety Damarious Randall and end Marcus Hardison. ASU was good on the defensive side in 2014, but they still gave up 62 points to UCLA and 42 at Arizona in the season finale. Lloyd Carrington is one of the top corners in the conference, while Kalen Ballage has become a two-way player and looked like the team’s best pass rusher in the spring. With so many starters returning, depth has been built on all levels and head coach Todd Graham is excited with what he’s seen so far, claiming his team is, “Bigger, faster and stronger.”
They’ll need to show that in their first Game as Arizona State has to travel to Houston to play Texas A&M in a neutral-site Game to kickoff the season. How they perform in that Game will tell a lot about how the season will go. ASU opens the Pac-12 season with a difficult October that includes road Games at UCLA, Utah and home Games against USC and Oregon. To close the season, they’ll get a sneaky difficult back-to-back with Arizona and then at California.
The Sun Devils may be better on the defensive side this year, but how will the offense operate without the big Jaelen Strong leading the way? If someone doesn’t step into that role, this offense could have some problems. There’s no doubt they’ll be fighting for the South title again, but they’ll need to win when it matters this time around for that to happen.
2015 Arizona State Football Schedule
Sept. 5 vs. Texas A&M (NRG Stadium)
Sept. 12 at Cal Poly
Sept. 18 vs. New Mexico
Sept. 26 vs. USC
Oct. 3 at UCLA
Oct. 10 vs. Colorado
Oct. 17 at Utah
Oct. 29 vs. Oregon
Nov. 7 at Washington State
Nov. 14 vs. Washington
Nov. 21 vs. Arizona
Nov. 28 at California