Arizona State Sun Devils Odds to Win the 2015 College Football National Championship
by Alan Matthews - 8/8/2014
When Arizona State hired Coach Todd Graham before the 2012 season, Graham's reputation wasn't great. Oh, everyone knew he could coach. But the guy bailed on the University of Pittsburgh after just one year. It made him look like a mercenary; simply always trying to find where the grass was greener. But now ASU fans aren't complaining.
After leading the Sun Devils to an 8-5 record and Fight Hunger Bowl victory in his first season, Graham's Sun Devils were the surprise winners of the Pac-12 South Division a year ago. In fact, ASU finished with the best regular season record in the conference at 8-1, with the only loss coming in the conference opener at Stanford. The big win for the division was 38-33 at No. 14 UCLA on Nov. 16 and clinched the South. The Sun Devils hosted the Pac-12 title game - the last year it will be held on campus - but were clearly an inferior team against Stanford again, this time getting blown out 38-14. Arizona State was then beaten by two touchdowns in the Holiday Bowl against unranked Texas Tech. The 10-win season was the school's first since 2007.
The good news for this season is that seven offensive starters are due back, led by good quarterback Taylor Kelly. The bad is that the defense has been totally depleted with just two starters returning. Most project ASU as no better than second in the South this season behind heavy favorite UCLA.
Arizona State Odds to Win the 2015 National Championship Story Lines
Last year, Kelly threw for 3,635 yards, the third most in a season in school history, and averaged 259.6 yards per game, which placed him in the top five in school history. His 28 touchdown passes were No. 3 in ASU annals and his two-year total of 57 is the most of any Arizona State QB. Kelly can beat you with his feet, too, as he rushed for 608 yards and nine scores. The Sun Devils scored at least 50 points six times, also a school record. The team's 39.7 ppg ranked No. 10 in the nation. Leading rusher Marion Grice (996 yards, 14 TDs) is gone but his former backup D.J. Foster (501 yards, 6 TDs) seems more than capable. Leading receiver Jaelen Strong (75 catches, 1,122 yards, 7 TDs) is back and could be an All-American. The offensive line, adding Auburn transfer Christian Westerman, should be one of the best in the Pac-12.
The defense has to replace two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Will Sutton, a tackle, as well as linebacker Carl Bradford (the team's sack leader), cornerbacks Robert Nelson and Osahon Irabor and safety Alden Darby, among others. There's a lot of work to be done here for new coordinator Keith Patterson. You will see a lot of JuCo recruits and underclassmen playing. ASU defenses tend to be aggressive. Arizona State has forced at least one turnover in each of the last 27 games, which dates to a 47-38 loss to California on Nov. 25, 2011. It's the second-longest forced-turnover streak in the FBS, trailing just Missouri. The Sun Devils had 21 interceptions last season, but the returning players combined for just four.
Arizona State will absolutely enter Pac-12 play at 2-0 because the Sun Devils have cupcakes up first: vs. Weber State and at New Mexico. Really? ASU's other non-conference game is Nov. 8 at home against Notre Dame. The Irish beat Arizona State 37-34 last season at AT&T Stadium outside Dallas. ASU had 427 yards of offense but three turnovers and held the ball for just 25:22.
Arizona State should be 3-0 entering a huge Thursday night game (Sept. 25) against UCLA. That starts a season-defining four-game stretch as ASU then visits USC, hosts Stanford and visits Washington. Get through that with just one loss and the Sun Devils will be in command of the South. Arizona State shouldn't have any trouble with its two remaining conference home games against Utah and Washington State but probably is an underdog at Oregon State and at Arizona despite soundly beating both in Tempe last year.
Arizona State 2015 National Championship Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , the Sun Devils are +7300 to win the national title, +1900 to win the Pac-12 Championship Game and +415 to take the South Division. ASU doesn't have odds to make the College Football Playoff. It has "over/under" wins totals of 8.5 (under -300 favorite), 8 (under -190 favorite), 7.5 (over -115 favorite), 7 (over -225 favorite) and 6.5 (over -320 favorite). Foster is +20000 to win the Heisman and Kelly is +25000. ASU was 7-7 against the spread in 2013 (5-3 at home) and 9-5 O/U (5-3 at home).
Arizona State Odds to Win the 2015 National Championship Predictions
This team is going to have to win with offense - look for many games where ASU scores in the 40s but also gives up at least 40. Lean heavy on those overs all season here. So it's a good thing those first two games are so easy because the defense is going to need time to figure things out. While the Pac-12 has become a very offensive conference, you still have to have a semblance of defense, and I don't see that here. I expect ASU to finish at 8-4 and third in the Pac-12 South, but it will be an entertaining team to watch.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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