(In conjunction with Yahoo Sportsbook, BetMGM is launching in Arizona on Thursday. Arizona customers can click here to create a BetMGM account and start betting! Be sure to check out Yahoo Sportsbook for the most up-to-date analysis and odds for your favorite teams.)
There’s a lot of hype surrounding Arizona State this year. Can Herm Edwards’ team take the jump so many expect?
There were a few exciting moments along the way, but the Sun Devils have been mostly mediocre during Edwards’ tenure to this point. In his three years, ASU has a 17-13 overall record with an 11-11 mark in Pac-12 play.
Arizona State — like so many others — had its 2020 season derailed by COVID-19. After opening the year with a heartbreaking one-point loss to USC on Nov. 7, the Sun Devils did not return to action until Dec. 5. That game was a 25-18 loss to UCLA. ASU then rounded out the season by pummeling rival Arizona 70-7 and beating Oregon State 46-33.
There was a return to normalcy this offseason — at least for a while. Arizona State is engulfed in an NCAA investigation amid allegations that its coaches brought prospects onto campus when visits were banned amid the COVID-19 pandemic. That investigation has led to multiple assistant coaches being placed on administrative leave.
There’s a lot to like about the Sun Devils’ roster, but will the lingering investigation and coaching staff shakeup affect ASU’s season? Arizona State is one of three Pac-12 South teams with a preseason win total of 8.5 at BetMGM.
What you should know about Arizona State?
Arizona State has one of the Pac-12’s best quarterbacks in Jayden Daniels. Now in his third season as the starter, Daniels flashed big-time potential with 17 touchdowns and just two interceptions as a true freshman in 2019. He also showed off his rushing ability in 2020, when he rushed for 223 yards and four TDs in just four games.
ASU has two exciting RBs, Rachaad White and Deamonte Trayanum, in the backfield with Daniels, but the receiving corps is unproven. On the other side, the secondary is a perceived strength and there’s a lot of returning experience at linebacker. However, the run defense really struggled in 2020. ASU hasn’t gotten to the QB too many times in recent years, either.
If a few wide receivers separate themselves from the pack and the defense takes a step forward, this could be the year ASU wins the South — despite stiff competition from the likes of USC, Utah and UCLA.
Can Arizona State get to 9 wins?
Arizona State has the benefit of an easy non-conference schedule. ASU opens the year at home against Southern Utah and UNLV before traveling to BYU. BYU should be a good team, but nowhere near as good as the Zach Wilson-led squad from 2020.
From a conference schedule perspective, ASU drew Stanford, Washington State, Washington and Oregon State from the Pac-12 North. While the Stanford and WSU games are at home, the Washington and Oregon State games are on the road in back-to-back weeks in November. ASU will almost certainly be the favorite in Corvallis, but that trip to Seattle will be one of the biggest tests of the year.
In division play, both the UCLA and Utah games are on the road while USC will travel to Tempe. All three of those games are toss-ups, as is the Washington game. Those are your four most losable games.
If you consider the quality of the Pac-12 South and some of the questions surrounding ASU — both on and off the field — 8.5 feels like the perfect number. Personally, I would lean toward the under with 8-4 as the most likely outcome.