2011 Arizona State Sun Devils Football Predictions and Betting Odds
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 7/25/2011
During the offseason the Arizona State Sun Devils have lost more players than most teams lose during an entire season. The once presumed favorites of the Pac-12 South have been decimated by early retirements, both forced and not forced.
If the season does not get here quick, Coach Dennis Erickson might have trouble fielding a team.
The losses have been as significant as they have been numerous. Senior James Brooks, a two-year starter at defensive end, announced in mid-July that he would be leaving the program for personal reasons. Cornerback Omar Bolden, a unanimous all-conference selection last season, could be lost for the season with an ACL tear. Wide receiver T.J. Simpson also tore an ACL and his status is doubtful. After a sensational freshmen season, running back Deantre Lewis missed spring practice after being injured in a shooting. Couple in quarterback Steven Threet's decision to retire because of concussions, and you can just feel the headache Erickson is dealing with.
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No other coach has ever gotten more mileage out of a Pac-10 Coach of the Year award than Erickson. The NFL and NCAA coaching veteran has escaped even the discussion of a hot seat, even though his Sun Devils have missed out on bowl games three consecutive seasons. After a 10-3 inaugural campaign that included the coaching honors, a 10-win season and a trip to the Holiday Bowl, Arizona State has yet to post another winning record. They have finished sixth, ninth and fifth, respectively, in the conference in the last three years. In his four seasons overall Erickson is 25-24 and 17-19 in the conference, including a 10-17 record the last three seasons. Erickson has been pointing to this 2011 campaign as Arizona State's big chance, and it is his big chance to show people that after all these years the 64-year old still has it.
A lot of people forget that even though Arizona State did not go to a bowl game, it closed out the season on a two-game winning streak thanks largely to the arm of then sophomore quarterback Brock Osweiler. He takes over for Threet this season, but he actually took over for him for the final two weeks of last season and he was superb. Osweiler guided the Sun Devils to a win over UCLA by passing for 380 yards and four touchdowns. The next week, in an upset win at Arizona, Osweiler passed for 267 yards and a touchdown. He attempted 85 passes in two games and did not throw an interception. Osweiler could prove to be a significant upgrade under center, not to mention he has his entire offensive line back as well as five targets that caught at least 20 passes last season, including leading rusher Cameron Marshall.
The defense was supposed to welcome nine starters back. That would make it the most experienced -- if not one of the best units -- in the conference. Instead Brooks called it quits and Bolden went down with an ACL tear, and just like that the defense is looking mighty average again, although there are bright spots. Defensive ends James Brooks and Jamaar Jarrott will have to pick up the slack, as will defensive backs Eddie Elder, Clint Floyd and Osahon Irabor, who start in a secondary that finished 101st against the pass last year.
2011 Arizona State Sun Devils Football Schedule
After opening the season against UC Davis of the FCS, the Sun Devils play in a pair of big-time nonconference games, first against Missouri in Tempe and then on the road at Illinois. Those tough games give way to an even tougher Pac-12 slate that starts at home against USC and Oregon State before hitting the road against Utah and Oregon.
The second-half of the Arizona State season is far more manageable, with home games against Colorado, Arizona and California and road games at UCLA and Washington State.
2011 Arizona State Sun Devils Betting Odds
The Sun Devils just missed out on being labeled the favorites to win the Pac-12 South Division. They are listed at +185 on WagerWeb, just behind conference newcomer Utah (+165). Arizona State's odds to win the Pac-12 Conference are +500, behind Oregon (+120), Stanford (+225) and Utah (+450).
In terms of College Football National Championship odds Arizona State is listed at 75/1 on Bodog. To put that in perspective, those are the same odds as Ole Miss and Michigan.
2011 Arizona State Sun Devils Football Predictions
Injuries and off-the-field distractions aside, this Arizona State team has the talent and make up of a serious conference title contender. The loss of key players will not hurt Arizona State as much as people think, and it certainly added plenty of value to the Sun Devils futures odds. Arizona State is a solid value at +185 to win the Pac-12 South Division especially considering they will likely be favored at Utah in a game that should decide the division.
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