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College Football: Arizona State Sun Devils Preview & Predictions

Suggested Team Slogan:  Sympathy For the Devil

What was learned from 2007: Life is great when you can actually win close games. Under new head coach Dennis Erickson, the Sun Devils won the sort of games they had been known for blowing under previous leader Dirk Koetter. What would have likely been an 8-5 season under Koetter turned into a 10-3 season and a Holiday Bowl appearance vs. Texas under Coach Erickson. Erickson’s arrival changed the team, with mostly positive results, raising him to iconic status in Tempe. The offense was more balanced between running and passing, but the usually dependable offensive line allowed quarterback Rudy Carpenter to be sacked a school-record 55 times.

Expectations in 2008 With a full year of recruiting under his belt, Dennis Erickson was able to find the weaknesses of his team and try his best to improve. As he always does, he has brought in several junior college recruits to fill the holes from last season, especially on defense and the offensive line. With Rudy Carpenter returning for his senior season with most of his powerful weapons at his disposal, the offense will shine provided he can be protected better. If the defense improves as well, the Sun Devils will be in every game, even with a brutal stretch in the middle of the season.

What will hold them back from success Every game might be winnable, but 2 games in particular will be very difficult for the Sun Devils. ASU will host pre-season #1 Georgia on September 20th in one of the most intriguing matchups of the season. Georgia should win, but the Devils will at least put up a fight in front of a large home crowd.

While the Pac-10 schedule is brutal for all teams, each year every team circles their date on the calendar with USC. Until USC is toppled, those dates will remain so. This year’s circle is October 11th, at USC just a week after travelling to Cal. While ASU should beat Cal, it will be difficult not to look ahead to the USC game. If they lose to Georgia, it’s conceivable that Arizona State could have a 3-game losing streak in the middle of their season – with another tough game against Oregon after that.

Big Men on Campus It’s not often that your kicker is one of the Big Men on Campus, but ASU kicker Thomas Weber won the Groza award in his freshman year, going 24 of 25 on field goal attempts. A leg like that will win a lot of close games, especially with ASU’s offense figuring to move the ball well. Rudy Carpenter will enter his senior season hoping to impress NFL scouts. His top weapons include receivers Chris McGaha and Mike Jones and running backs Keegan Herring and Dimitri Nance. On defense, Dexter Davis and Troy Nolan, both 2nd team preseason Pac-10 selections, will lead the way.

Cheerleader Grade:

Fork’em Devils. If these rankings took cheerleaders into account, ASU would be a top 5 program no doubt. Last year’s reports that the Arizona State cheerleading squad had been eliminated were fortunately false. The program is back, providing America with underwear pictures & future porn stars. You’re welcome. A+

EA NCAA Football ’09 Sim: Arizona St.: 10-3 (8-1) Pac10 co-Champs with USC. Losses to Georgia,

Washington St., and a 37-20 loss to Ohio St. In the Rose Bowl.

All Pac10 1st team: QB Rudy Carpenter, WR Chris McGaha, C Thomas

Altiers, ROLB Mike Nixon, SS Troy Nolan

All Pac10 2nd team: HB Keegan Herring, WR Michael Jones, LG Zach

Schlink, RG Paul Fanaika, DT Spencer Gasu, CB Cameron Harkey, FS

Jeremy Payton, K Thomas Weber

Qb Rudy Carpenter: 272-400 for 3233 yards, 32 Td’s and 10 Int’s

Wr Chris McGaha: 66 catches for 711 yards and 10 Td’s

Rolb Mike Nixon: 70 tackles 19 TFL 5 sacks 2 Int’s and 1 Td

SS Troy Nolan: 42 tackles 7 TFL 1 Int

Wr Michael Jones: 89 catches for 1018 yards and 5 Td’s

DT Spencer Gasu: 44 tackles 16 TFL 4 sacks

Cb Cameron Harkey: 34 tackles 2 Int’s

Fs Jeremy Payton: 35 tackles 3 Int’s 1 Td

K Thomas Weber: 14-16 with a long of 40

Schedule and Prediction

Aug. 30 Northern Arizona   W
Sept. 6 Stanford     W
Sept. 13 UNLV    W
Sept. 20 Georgia    L
Oct. 4 at California    W
Oct. 11 at USC    L
Oct. 25 Oregon    W
Nov. 1 at Oregon State    W
Nov. 8 at Washington    W
Nov. 15 Washington State    W
Nov. 28 UCLA    W
Dec. 6 at Arizona    W

On paper, ASU should be able to go 10-2 in the regular season. It will take 2 near-perfect football games to beat Georgia or USC. Sun Devil fans would be happy to win one of those two games, but in all likelihood will win neither. While the game at Cal looks to be the hardest non-USC road game on the schedule, Coach Erickson should be able to keep the players from looking ahead too far and the Devils will escape with a close win. With just the loss to USC, ASU should be in line for another Holiday Bowl appearance, or even an outside shot at a BCS bid depending on how the rest of the season pans out. Of course, as always, the most important win will be the one on December 6th against Arizona.

Your thoughts and predictions?

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