The PAC-12 will have seven weeks of football this fall but only have six games scheduled for each team before the 2020 season, as game seven will be dependent on the standings at the end of the shortened-year. This means each team will play five games in their division, with one game coming against opposing teams from the North or South. For ASU, they drew the California Berkeley Golden Bears. Here’s why Sun Devil nation should be ecstatic about drawing Cal.
Arizona State and California played each other during the 2019 season in Berkeley. The Friday night slugfest was a defensive battle throughout, with ASU coming out on top 24-17. The Sun Devils had the advantage in virtually every offensive category, tallying more first downs, total yards, and a better third-down conversion rate. In Cal’s defense, quarterback Chase Garbers did leave the game late in the first half, but the Devils front seven stiffened and made everything a struggle for Cal in the second half.
Arizona State’s defense has continued to improve and grow, with key players now entering their junior and senior seasons, which gives them the experience and extra knowledge of the defensive scheme then in recent years. This, paired with Cal only scoring 21.2 points per game last year, gives ASU the heavy advantage.
ASU’s offense is poised to be better than last years as well, especially with quarterback Jayden Daniels entering his sophomore season under Herm Edwards. In regards to Cal’s stingy defense from last year, the Golden Bears lost their best player on that side of the ball in Evan Weaver, who was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals. Weaver recorded 15 tackles against the Devils in last year's matchup and was the most disruptive player at Memorial Field.
Most importantly for ASU, getting Cal Berkeley as their non-division opponent means they avoided the opposing division’s powerhouses of Washington and Oregon. They were the only two teams from the North that received votes in the AP poll. ASU did go 3-1 against opponents from the PAC-12 North last year, with their only loss coming at the hands of Oregon State.
For Coach Edwards and company, the Sun Devils were able to catch the luck of the draw, as they match up quite nicely with the Golden Bears. Expect the week two contest to have a little more offense and passing, which suits ASU better. It may still be a close game because that’s how ASU has functioned under Herm, but expect the Devils to come out on top.