Can you believe it? Arizona State will be playing football during the 2020 season in just over a week, as the Sun Devils opening game is right around the corner. They’ll be playing their PAC-12 South rival USC on November 7 at 10 a.m. to begin conference play.
The Devils will have their work cut out for them right out of the gate when they travel to the Los Angeles Coliseum to play the 21st-ranked Trojans. So how will the Sun Devils fare in the seven games they are hoping to play this year? Let’s dive into my predictions.
Arizona State @ USC
Arizona State’s secondary seems to be the strength of the team this season, aside from quarterback Jayden Daniels. This matchup will set the tone for who the favorite of the south division will be. All eyes will be on the matchup between two young talented quarterbacks in Daniels and Kedon Slovis. I think this will be the only game where the Sun Devil secondary struggles, as USC, has a ton of talented weapons on the outside. I’ll take the Trojans at home 38-30.
California @ Arizona State
In week two, ASU will play in its home opener against the only PAC-12 North opponent on the schedule prior to the games to be announced in week seven, the California Golden Bears. In one of my previous articles, I highlighted why the Devils should feel good about drawing Cal from the north, and I’ll stick with that prediction here. I like the Sun Devils to bounce back and make Cal quarterback Chase Garbers look uncomfortable from the opening kickoff. I’ll take ASU 28-19.
Arizona State @ Colorado
The Sun Devils’ third game of the season will be in Boulder as they travel to take on the Colorado Buffaloes. I think Jayden Daniels and wide receiver Frank Darby have the best game of their season against the Buffs. Colorado has a new head coach in Karl Dorrell, and with the lack of training camp and thin air up north, I can see Darby catching two long touchdowns as the Buffaloes defense struggles. I think the Devils defense feeds off of an early ASU lead, and they dominate Colorado 35-13.
Utah @ Arizona State
In last year's rainy and sloppy game against Utah, ASU and its offensive line got manhandled by a strong Utes defense while in Salt Lake City. I think this year will be a whole different story for Arizona State. Utah lost six defensive players to the draft in 2020, while the Devils’ young offensive line has continued to grow. I think Daniels and company get their revenge against Kyle Whittingham’s team, as the Utes will be the team to struggle on offense with a new quarterback replacing Tyler Huntley. I’ll take Arizona State 24-17.
UCLA @ Arizona State
In week five, ASU welcomes UCLA to Tempe, as the Devils look to get revenge on the Bruins following last year's disappointing loss in Pasadena after falling behind 42-10 entering the 4th quarter. UCLA used former running back Joshua Kelley brilliantly, as he ran for four touchdowns in the win. You have to expect that Herm Edwards and his staff will make adjustments in 2020 and force sophomore quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson to throw the ball. I see the ASU defense coming out strong in a defensive battle where Chase Lucas and Jack Jones each snag interceptions, which will ultimately seal the deal on an ASU win. I’m rolling with the home team to get a crucial win, 27-21.
Arizona State @ Arizona
The sixth and final week before the slate of games during the PAC-12 championship brings us Arizona State in Tucson to play in-state rivals Arizona for the territorial cup. The Sun Devils have won three in a row against the Wildcats, and I think that the cup will be staying in Tempe. ASU is better than UArizona at basically every position on the field. Not to mention that the Devils have the edge on the sidelines with their high-profile coaches as well. Look for Daniels and company to thrash the Wildcats defense en route to coach Edwards staying perfect against the team down south.
The seventh game that ASU will play has yet to be determined. It will occur during championship weekend, whether the Devils make the title game or not. If my predictions stand correct and COVID-19 doesn’t affect the amount of games played for Arizona State, I have them just missing the title game, as I believe USC will finish 5-1. Unfortunately for Sun Devil fans, they would have the tie-breaker in my scenario, meaning ASU would play one of the remaining nine teams that won’t be in the title game.
In order for the Sun Devils to be successful this fall, the following players will have to be the best on each side of the ball. On the offensive end, Jayden Daniels needs to take over as the star-quarterback that he has the potential to be. With Eno Benjamin gone, expect new offensive coordinator Zak Hill to let Daniels be trigger happy in his sophomore year.
On the defensive side of the ball, Chase Lucas will have to become the lockdown corner that can shut down the whole side of the field he’s playing on. Expect Lucas to have his best year yet, as he gets ready to try and raise his draft stock with superb play in the PAc-12.
Even with the shortened season and still so much uncertainty in regards to what would happen if players were diagnosed with COVID-19, there’s one thing for sure. Herm Edwards and his NFL-caliber staff will have their young athletes disciplined and ready to play come kickoff next weekend. Buckle up Sun Devil nation, because football is officially back.