College Football Predictions – Arizona St Sun Devils 2019 College Football Preview
Record – 7-6
ATS – 7-6
Year one of the Herm Edwards era should be considered a success. Their final record was “only” 7-6 but they bagged wins over Michigan St, USC, and Utah. Not to mention a miracle comeback victory vs their hated rival that resides in Tucson. They fell to the JUGGERNAUT Fresno St Bulldogs in the Las Vegas Bowl but there is definitely reason to be optimistic about the future of the football program.
What can they accomplish this season? Let’s dig in.
2019 MEGALOCKS Opening Power Rating
South Division – #3
PAC 12 – #6
Arizona St Sun Devils 2019 Outlook
The Sun Devils move on without talented QB Manny Wilkins who had a fine senior season (3,025, 20-6 TD to INT, 8 rushing TDs) as well as star WR N’Keal Harry who was one of the most dominant WRs in college football a year ago (#1 DC Patriots). There is a lot of young talent in the QB room but the operative word is “young”. A few true freshmen are in the mix for the starting gig including highly-regarded recruit Jayden Daniels. Last season’s backup Dillon Sterling-Cole will also be competing for the job during fall camp. Whatever the outcome, it seems unrealistic to expect the kind of performance and leadership that Wilkins displayed last year.
The key to the offense is star RB Eno Benjamin who rushed for a school record 1,642 yards a year ago whilst collecting 16 (!) TDs. Benjamin was also a force out of the backfield (35 receptions, 2 TD) and it’s no surprise that he garnered AA honors for his efforts. The depth behind him is unproven and teams might be able to pay more attention to him given the youth at QB. Despite the loss of the aforementioned N’Keal Harry there is still a lot of experience and talent at WR. The best news just might be the offensive line that returns 4/5 starters and they did a wonderful job last season (184 YPG rushing, just 16 sacks allowed).
Arizona St put up 29.9 PPG last season and 31.8 PPG in 2017. We expect a similar level of output in 2019.
The Sun Devils improved by over a TD per game last year allowing 25.5 PPG and there are seven starters back for duty. Despite this improvement they were still fairly average overall from a statistical standpoint (#10 PAC-12 run D, #9 pass efficiency D, T5 sacks). They have to do a much better job of stopping the run and, while we are skeptical about the talent on the DL, Arizona St DOES have a pair of great young LBs in Merlin Robertson (led team in tackles LY) and Darien Butler. The Sun Devils have shown improvement in their pass defense the last three seasons going from 64% completions allowed down to 60% in 2018. Three starters return to the secondary that boasts a few potential future stars including safety Aashari Crosswell who led the team in INT (4) and PBU (9) a season ago.
There is definite upside to the stop unit given the young talent on board and keep in mind that this is the 2nd year of the Danny Gonzales defense (3-3-5; came from San Diego St LY).
Arizona St boasts a solid PK in Brandon Ruiz (18/20 inside 50 yards LY) but need to break in a new P and find a replacement for the dangerous Harry on PR.
Overall – It looks pretty favorable. They start with two layups before a road date with Michigan St and have five conference home games.
Potential ATS Trouble Spot – at Michigan St (September 14)
If revenge is truly a dish BEST SERVED COLD then it stands to reason that the Sun Devils may have problems in this contest. Arizona St upset the Spartans in Tempe last season in the ultimate BODY CLOCK NIGHTMARE game for Michigan St. This will be the first real test for a new QB and Michigan St is often great at stopping the run.
Season Win Total
Over 6.5 -130
Under 6.5 +110
We’ll side with the ‘over’. This has the look of a team that can win seven games or more.
The all-time school wins leader is Hall of Fame coach Frank Kush, for whom Frank Kush Field at Sun Devil Stadium is named. Kush had an excellent record of 176-54-1 (.764) from 1958 to 1979.
The Sun Devils have only won two of their past nine bowl games.
MEGALOCKS ATS Outlook: Neutral
We like what Herm Edwards has going on in Tempe. Last year was a good stepping stone and there is plenty of young talent on the roster. Can they overcome a lack of experience at QB? Can the defense take a step forward? The Sun Devils have got to find a way to win on the road if they want to be considered threats in the PAC-12 South. They are an excellent 47-19 SU at home over the past 10 years but just 22-40 (!) at road and neutral sites. From a point spread perspective they haven’t had a bad year since they posted a 3-9-1 mark vs the number in 2011.
This feels like a team that may be a year away from doing great things. There should be a few good spots to back the Sun Devils during the upcoming season but we would focus on backing them in Tempe where they are 40-25-1 (61.5%) vs Vegas since 2009.
Let’s go FIGHTING HERMS!
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