2014 Arizona State Sun Devils Odds to Win the Pac-12 with Picks & Predictions
by Aaron Smith - 8/4/2014
The Arizona State Sun Devils went 8-5 in Todd Graham's first year with the team. They went 10-4 last year in his second season. Arizona State was 10-2 heading into their last two games of the year in 2013, but they suffered disappointing losses against both Stanford and Texas Tech. The 38-14 loss at home in the Pac-12 title game was a shocker. The Sun Devils were favored by three points in that game. Their 37-23 loss to Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl was a real stunner since the Sun Devils were a huge 17-point favorite there. Overall, the 2013 season was a solid one for Arizona State, but the finish wasn't encouraging at all.
No one in the Pac-12 has to replace more than the Sun Devils do this year. Only eight starters return from last year's team, and only two of those remain from the defense. Graham's teams have always been known for offense, but last year's team reached 10 wins because their defense was so solid. Which direction will the Sun Devils go this year?
2014 Arizona State Offense
How good was the Arizona State offense in 2014? The Sun Devils scored more than 50 points in six games. For the season, they averaged 39.7 points per game. They rolled up 457.3 yards per game of total offense. The core of the Arizona State offense from last year returns this season. Taylor Kelly is now a senior quarterback who understands Graham's offense extremely well. Kelly threw for 3,635 yards and 28 touchdowns a year ago. He did throw 12 interceptions, and some of those picks proved costly in the team's losses. Kelly is underrated as a runner. He ran for 608 yards a year ago.
Marion Grice is gone from the backfield, but Arizona State should be in good shape with D.J. Foster and Deantre Lewis. These guys are both speed backs, and that's what Graham prefers in his fast-paced system. The Sun Devils offensive line was only mediocre a year ago despite all five of their starting linemen start all 14 games. Three of the linemen return this year, and the depth up front has improved from last year. Look for the offensive front to be a little better than last season.
The biggest question mark for Arizona State offensively is the wide receiver spot. Graham's offenses like to run the ball quite a bit, but they will obviously need to keep opposing defenses honest. The Sun Devils return their top wideout in Jaelen Strong, but the rest of this group is unproven. Gary Chambers and Cameron Smith will be needed in a big way.
This offense should be in good shape, and I expect them to be able to put up numbers similar to last year's.
2014 Arizona State Defense
Here's where the problems start for Arizona State. The 2013 Sun Devils defense was the best it has been in many years, but they are going to take a massive step back this season. Two starters return, and all of their stars from last year are gone. New defensive coordinator Keith Patterson is going to have a very difficult job! Arizona State knew defense was going to be a major problem this year, so they found some junior college players to try to fill some holes, but I don't think that will be enough.
The defensive line was strong last year, led by defensive tackle Will Sutton. Carl Bradford is also gone, and he led the team in tackles for loss with 10.5 last year. To say that this year's line has big shoes to fill is an understatement. Graham has brought in plenty of guys to try to fill the holes, but I don't think any of them are good enough. I'm most worried about the defensive tackles. Look for opposing offensive lines to have a big advantage against Arizona State in the trenches.
The linebacker spot is hardly a strength, but this unit looks a little better than the defensive line. Salamo Fiso recorded 71 tackles as a freshman, and he'll be the leader of this unit. The Sun Devils coaching staff believes they have plenty of speed and strength at the other spots as well.
The secondary was only mediocre last year, and they'll certainly take a step back this year. Arizona State lost three guys who were either first-team or second-team all Pac-12 last year. Only safety Damarious Randall returns from last year's secondary. The cornerback spots are major weaknesses, and the other safety spot is wide open too. The secondary is weak, and that weakness will show up even more because the Sun Devils defensive line is so terrible. Opposing quarterbacks should have some huge games against this group.
2014 Arizona State Odds to Win Pac-12
Arizona State is listed as the fifth favorite to win the Pac-12 at 12/1, according to odds from Bovada. The Sun Devils are the third favorite at 3/1 to win the Pac-12 South Division. Arizona State is listed at 100/1 to win the national title. Arizona State's season win total is set at 7.5 games.
2014 Arizona State Sun Devils Picks & Predictions
Arizona State's defense is so weak that I can't imagine this team competing for a Pac-12 title. They host UCLA and Stanford, but must travel to USC and Washington as well as rival Arizona to finish off the season. If there is one thing you might want to do with this team, it is look to play the "over" in each of their regular season games. They are going to have some really high-scoring contests. I expect a disappointing season from the Sun Devils as their defense really holds them back in a tough conference.
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