2015-2016 Football Previews (Pac-12) – Sun Devils
The Arizona State Sun Devils have won 10 games in each of the last two college football seasons. They have also finished as a top-25 program in both years with head coach Todd Graham leading the way.
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Pac-12 2015-2016 College Football Preview – Arizona State
Head Coach: Todd Graham
2014 Record: 10-3
Odds to Win College Football Championship (from Bovada): 66/1
Odds to win Pac-12 (from GTbets): 8/1
Season Win Total (from 5Dimes): 8.5
At this point in the offseason, with spring camp behind us, the Sun Devils are a top-25 team in terms of 2016 National Championship odds.
They’re 21st at 66/1 odds, placing them between the Florida Gators (66/1) — 22nd — and Arkansas Razorbacks (50/1) — 20th.
Even including a few losses on both offense and defense, ASU is likely to contend for top-dog honors in the Pac-12 South once again. Mike Bercovici could very well have a breakout year in his first campaign as starting quarterback, and the defense should aggressive with seven starters returning to action.
Typically, replacing a starting quarterback — especially one who played three years in that role — would result in the position becoming a weakness.
We’re not going to fall into that trap here.
Arizona State is lucky enough to have Bercovici, who played quite well when given the opportunity last season. He’s not going to come in as a wide-eyed newbie; he showed that he can play well with his big arm last season, even if he’s not quite the runner that Taylor Kelly proved to be during his tenure with the program.
In his time on the field last season, Bercovici completed his tosses to the tune of 61.8 percent completion. He also threw for 12 touchdown, while throwing for just four interceptions in his 186 attempts.
Despite the confidence this team has in Bercovici, don’t be shocked to see the Sun Devils utilize a strong group of running backs more than they’re used to. Demario Richard, Kalen Ballage and Gump Hayes will help make life easier on Bercovici as he transitions into his new role.
Defensively, the strength here is the back seven. The Sun Devils have the ability to rotate linebackers seamlessly.
If there’s any concern on the defensive side of the ball, it’s a lack of a dynamic pass rusher up front. J.C. recruit Davon Durant was supposed to be the backer in Arizona State’s system, but he’s been suspended indefinitely because of an arrest for allegations of domestic abuse.
Back on offense, the Sun Devils have to replace both starting tackles. There’s also concern that the wide receiver position won’t be able to recover following the loss of Jaelen Strong, who has gone to the NFL.
Cameron Smith is also going to miss the entire season after knee surgery, meaning D.J. Foster, a full-time slot receiver now, will be the team’s newest quarterback’s main target.
Arizona State Sun Devils 2015-2016 Prediction: 9-3
As strong as ASU could end up being next season, chances are, they’re going to finish just short of a Pac-12 South title. Those honors are likely going to end up with the USC Trojans — assuming Southern California doesn’t choke away the lofty expectations bestowed upon them this season.
ASU’s schedule is a bit daunting, especially early in the season. The team opens against Texas A&M in Houston, but three of their first four conference games are against USC at home, at UCLA and at Utah.
Three of their final five games are at home, but a second-place finish seems most likely at this point in the process.
Arizona State Sun Devils 2015 Football Schedule
- Sat, Sept 5 vs. Texas A&M
- Sat, Sept. 12 vs. Cal Poly
- Fri, Sept. 18 vs. New Mexico
- Sat, Sept. 26 vs. USC
- Sat, Oct. 3 @ UCLA
- Sat, Oct. 10 vs. Colorado
- Sat, Oct. 17 @ Utah
- Thu, Oct. 29 vs. Oregon
- Sat, Nov. 7 @ Washington State
- Sat, Nov. 14 @ Washington
- Sat, Nov. 21 vs. Arizona
- Fri, Nov. 28 @ California
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