A look at each game in the Sun Devils’ 2017 season
Arizona State opens Todd Graham’s sixth season on a Thursday night, when the Sun Devils host New Mexico State.
ASU plays seven home games, including Arizona to close the season. Four of their home opponents posted double-digit wins in 2016.
Here’s a closer look at each game.
Aug. 31 – New Mexico State, 7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
ASU is playing the Aggies, now in the Sun Belt Conference, for the first time since an infamous 35-7 loss in 1999. Coach Doug Martin, going into his fifth season, is a combined 10-38 at New Mexico State including 3-9 in 2016 and it’s not expected to get a whole lot better this year. RB Larry Rose was the 2015 Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year.
Sept. 9 – San Diego State, 8 p.m., Pac-12 Network
The Aztecs are on a roll, winning 22 games over the last two seasons, in addition to consecutive Mountain West championships and two bowl games. NCAA career rushing leader Donnel Pumphrey is gone to the NFL but Rashaad Penny is a returning 1,000-yard rusher. QB Christian Chapman also is back, but there is turnover in the offensive line and with some key defenders. ASU’s unbeaten record (10-0-1) vs. San Diego State will be on the line in a true early-season test.
Sept. 16 – at Texas Tech, 5 p.m., Channel 10 or FS1
Texas Tech and ASU had the worst two defenses statistically in the nation last season, not surprising to anyone who watched their 68-55 game last season with 1,264 yards of combined offense. QB Patrick Mahomes was picked No. 10 overall in the NFL draft so the Red Raiders are turning to Nic Shimonek, a transfer from Iowa, to keep the points coming. For both teams, though, it’s all about defensive improvement.
Sept. 23 – Oregon
Last season was the ideal opportunity for ASU to break a nine-game losing streak against Oregon, then on a five-game losing streak. Instead the Ducks won 54-35, still not enough for coach Mark Helfrich to keep his job. His replacement Willie Taggart arrives from South Florida, bringing in former USF head coach Jim Leavitt as defensive coordinator. QB Justin Herbert is the starting point for what could be a quick bounce back from 4-8.
Sept. 30 – at Stanford
ASU last played Stanford in 2014, but the Cardinal is no less imposing, winning 12 games and the Rose Bowl in 2015 and 10 in 2016. QB Keller Chryst is returning from a knee injury suffered in the Sun Bowl and Bryce Love is now the lead running back, replacing all-everything Christian McCaffrey. This is the start of a brutal five-game stretch for ASU that includes four top-25 caliber opponents.
Oct. 14 – Washington
The Huskies hit it big in coach Chris Petersen’s third season, reaching the College Football Playoff semifinals. There are some major losses, but QB Jake Browning, coming off shoulder surgery, returns along with RB Myles Gaskin and some talented linemen and linebackers. Washington last won at ASU in 2001 but as Pac-12 North favorite with a shot at returning to the CFP figures to be a substantial favorite.
Oct. 21 – at Utah
Utah stumbled in the final third of the season, losing three of four with the only win over ASU (49-26). Still, the Utes won their bowl game to reach nine wins for a third straight year and returns QB Troy Williams, now working with new offensive coordinator Troy Taylor. Utah is one of the few Pac-12 teams that can win on defense alone but needs an offensive upgrade to break through and win the Pac-12 South.
Oct. 28 – USC
Everything is pointing up for the Trojans, who ended last season on a nine-game win streak and a pulsating 52-49 win over Penn State in the Rose Bowl. Sam Darnold is arguably the best of a strong group of returning Pac-12 quarterbacks and has help in RB Ronald Jones. WR JuJu Smith-Schuster and CB Adoree Jackson are major departures, but the prediction of a USC vs. Washington Pac-12 Championship with a CFP berth at stake is not improbable.
Nov. 4 – Colorado
Senior QB Sefo Liufau missed several games due to injury in Colorado’s breakout 10-4 season, giving Steven Montez a jump on what now is his job. Versatile Phillip Lindsay rushed for 1,189 yards/16 touchdowns and caught 47 passes in helping the Buffs to win the Pac-12 South. D.J. Eliot, formerly at Kentucky, is the new defensive coordinator with the immediate task of replacing eight starters. Colorado won for the first time over ASU (40-16) last season.
Nov. 11 – at UCLA
ASU will need enough in the tank for the final three games starting with the Bruins to avoid a third straight losing season. UCLA not only lost 23-20 to ASU last season but also lost QB Josh Rosen to a shoulder injury and spiraled down to 4-8. Coach Jim Mora made several staff changes including hiring Jedd Fisch, who had been at Michigan, as offensive coordinator. Rosen, based on 3,688 yards/23 touchdowns in 2015, is reason for optimism.
Nov. 18 – at Oregon State
Although 4-8 doesn’t seem like progress, it was for the Beavers, up from 2-10 in their first season under coach Gary Andersen. They closed with wins over Arizona and Oregon, ending an eight-game Civil War losing streak. RB Ryan Nall is the top offensive returner for a team that goes into preseason camp still trying to pin down its starting quarterback.
Nov. 25 – Arizona
Arizona salvaged something from its 2016 season with a 56-35 Territorial Cup win over ASU, finishing 3-9 with a single Pac-12 victory. The Wildcats, like ASU, were greatly impacted by quarterback injuries and are due for better fortunate in overall health. There is no decision yet at QB between Brandon Dawkins, Khalil Tate and newly added Donavan Tate although Dawkins ran for 183 yards vs. ASU. Nick Wilson and J.J. Taylor are running back threats. For coaches who came in the same year (2012), one or both jobs could be on the line in this game.
Times/TV for final nine games to be determined.