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2013 Arizona State Football: Game-by-Game Season Predictions

David A. BowersCorrespondent IIJanuary 10, 2013

2013 Arizona State Football: Game-by-Game Season Predictions

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    The Pac-12 Conference announced the 2013 slate of football games on Thursday, and the schedule for the Arizona State Sun Devils looks daunting.

    The Sun Devils will face three teams that were featured in BCS bowl games last year, including both Rose Bowl teams and the National Championship runner-up.

    Long gone are the days of two to three light games to ease into the schedule, as the Sun Devils welcome Wisconsin to Sun Devil Stadium in Week 2.

    The buzz around head coach Todd Graham and the future of the Sun Devil program is huge. It begins with the announcement on Tuesday that the Pat Tillman Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Will Sutton is returning to play his senior year and continues to the possibility of signing five-star, according to 247 Sports, defensive back and hometown legend, Priest Willis.  

    If the Devils are going to be the best, they are going to have to beat the best, and ASU Vice President for University Athletics Steve Patterson couldn't be happier.

    With the loaded non-conference schedule and the always tough Pac-12, I think our football team has one of the marquee schedules in the nation. I'm looking forward to the chance to prove ourselves against some of the toughest teams in the country, and this is yet another reason for Sun Devil fans to be excited about the 2013 season.

    Here is my breakdown of the schedule with predictions.

Week 1: Sacramento State Hornets

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    Date: Sept. 7, 2013

    Location: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.

    Opponent 2012 Record: 6-5, 4-4 Big Sky 

    Arizona State and Stanford will start the 2013 season later than the rest of the country by waiting until Sept. 7 to begin play.

    Arizona State's traditional opening game foe, Northern Arizona will open up the year at Arizona in 2013.

    Sacramento St. finished fifth in the Big Sky Conference in 2012, behind a Northern Arizona team that the Sun Devils walloped, 63-6. The Hornets' big win last year was a 30-28 victory over the Colorado Buffaloes.

    I don't see the Hornets being able to keep up with the speed and high-octane offense of the Sun Devils.

    Sacramento St. 10, Arizona St. 56

Week 2: Wisconsin Badgers

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    Date: Sept. 14, 2013

    Location: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.

    Opponent 2012 Record: 8-6, 4-4 Big Ten 

    The Badgers will head to Tempe after the Badgers escaped with a narrow victory over the Sun Devils in Camp Randall in the 2010 season.

    This will be a much different team than the one they faced on that day; it will even be different than the one that played in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.

    New head coach Gary Andersen has taken the helm, and Doak Walker Award winner Montee Ball will be noticeably absent from the backfield.

    I believe that the Badgers are in for a tough game in Tempe, and it will only get tougher for them in Big Ten play. 

    Wisconsin 21, Arizona St. 38

Week 3: Stanford Cardinal

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    Date: Sept. 21, 2013

    Location: Stanford Stadium, Stanford, Calif.

    Opponent 2012 Record: 12-2, 8-1 Pac-12

    This game scares me. The Sun Devils missed out on playing the Pac-12 and Rose Bowl Champion last year. They will travel to Stanford for the second game of the Pac-12 season.

    Stanford head coach David Shaw is building a dynasty in Stanford, and he will be returning with several starters for the 2013 season.

    A couple of big time players that will not be returning to the Cardinal are the two tight ends that were two of the top three receivers in 2012.

    I like the Devils chance in this game, but I believe they will not get past the Cardinal.

    Arizona St. 21, Stanford 35

Week 4: USC Trojans

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    Date: Sept. 28, 2013

    Location: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.

    Opponent 2012 Record: 7-6, 5-4 Pac-12 

    The biggest question that needs to be answered here is which USC is going to show up in the desert? Will it be the preseason AP No. 1 team that won six of their first seven games in 2012 or the one that finished the season losing five of their last six?

    The only solace for coach Lane Kiffin and the Trojans is that this Sun Devil team is the only team they beat in that miserable nose-dive.

    The team is just different than it was. Kiffin has been doing all he can to rectify the situation and to bring the Trojans back to respectability. The most important piece of the puzzle is recruiting, in which he has done extremely well.

    According to Scout.com, the Trojans have secured the most 5-star recruits with six and the second most Top 100 recruits with nine. 

    I still like the Devils in this one, at home in a nail-biter.

    USC 42, Arizona St. 45

Week 5: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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    Date: Oct. 5, 2013

    Location: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Tex.

    Opponent 2012 Record: 12-1, 2-0 vs. Pac-12 

    Wow, the hits keep on coming. The runner-up to the National Championship game in arguably the best football stadium in America? This is going to be a game!

    The Devils and Irish will battle for the first time since they did a home-and-home in 1998 and 1999. The Irish won both games handily, and the Devils will be looking for redemption.

    This will be the next installment of Notre Dame's Shamrock Series, wherein the Irish play a home game away from South Bend to appease their fans nationwide who can't attend home games.

    This game will be interesting to watch from several different angles, the biggest being how well the Irish fare in their first five games prior to the game. They will face traditional Big Ten foes in Purdue, Michigan and Michigan St., along with Oklahoma.

    If the Irish are rolling after wins over those teams, it will be difficult to stop the momentum. If they lose any or all of them, they will be looking to rebound for the lean part of their schedule.

    Their 2013 recruiting class ranks No. 4 according to Scout.com and includes six Top 100 recruits, including one 5-star and 17 4-star players.

    Arizona St. 28, Notre Dame 41

Week 6: Colorado Buffaloes

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    Date: Oct. 12, 2013

    Location: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.

    Opponent 2012 Record: 1-11, 1-8 Pac-12 

    If the Devils make it through the difficult beginning of the season with only two losses as predicted, they could very likely win out with the only foreseeable obstacle being at UCLA. The remaining Pac-12 teams that went to bowl games will all be at home for the Devils.

    The game against Colorado should be a big win for the Sun Devils, as they embark on their winning streak with momentum.

    Colorado 9, Arizona St. 48

Week 7: Washington Huskies

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    Date: Oct. 19, 2013

    Location: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.

    Opponent 2012 Record: 7-6, 5-4 Pac-12 

    Steve Sarkisian took the Husky faithful on a wild roller coaster ride in 2012. They won three of their first four games, including a 17-13 victory over then No. 8 Stanford.

    They followed up that big win with three straight losses. Just when all hope was lost, the 3-4 Huskies won four straight, including another big win over then No. 7 Oregon State.

    No roller coaster ride would be complete without the season ending nosedive, including an embarrassing loss to Washington State, who was winless in the conference.They lost another close one to Boise St. in Las Vegas and are ending the season on a down note.

     

    Washington 24, Arizona St. 42

Week 9: Washington St. Cougars

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    Date: Oct. 31, 2013

    Location: Martin Stadium, Pullman, Wash.

    Opponent 2012 Record: 3-9, 1-8 Pac-12 

    Halloween is scary enough, and playing in Pullman makes it monumentally scarier. The Sun Devils lost the last time they visited Pullman in freezing, blizzard conditions.

    The Cougars were bad in 2012; they even lost to Colorado—at home. They did pull out the upset over Washington, but this isn't a rivalry game, so look to the Sun Devils escaping Pullman with the W.

    All treat and no tricks this year.

    Arizona St. 48, Washington St. 28

Week 10: Utah Utes

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    Date: Nov. 9, 2013

    Location: Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah

    Opponent 2012 Record: 5-7, 3-6 Pac-12 

    The Utes weren't bad in 2012, but they weren't good either. Arizona State has beaten the Utes both times since they entered the Pac-12 Conference, and I don't see that trend changing in 2013.

    They were 1-1 in Utah rivalry games, losing to a bad Utah State team but beating then-ranked No. 25 Brigham Young. After the BYU upset, they only achieved victories over the Pac-12 bottom feeders.

    They are nowhere to be found on the recruiting scene with the second lowest average grade in the conference.

    Arizona St. 45, Utah 14

Week 11: Oregon St. Beavers

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    Date: Nov. 16, 2013

    Location: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.

    Opponent 2012 Record: 5-7, 3-6 Pac-12 

    The quarterback controversy is alive and well in Corvallis. If it weren't for the rescheduled Nicholls St. game to end the season, the Beavers would have lost two straight and four of their last six. 

    The Beavers won their first six games and reached a ranking as high as No. 7 before losing to Washington.

    They never expected to win their first six games last year, including wins over ranked Wisconsin and UCLA, but they did. They are the perennial underdogs and will enter 2013 much the same way as they did the 2012 season—as underdogs.

    The Pac-12 North division is tough, and unfortunately for the Beavers, their shot at the Pac-12 title game is far, far away.

    Oregon St. 28, Arizona St. 34

Week 12: UCLA Bruins

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    Date: Nov. 23, 2013

    Location: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.

    Opponent 2012 Record: 9-5, 6-3 Pac-12 

    Talk about taking the wind out of your sails. The UCLA Bruins had everything going in their favor, they were on a five-game win streak, they won the Pac-12 South division (on their own merits) and they had just beaten their cross-town rival, USC Trojans.

    Then the wheels came off.

    The Bruins lost to the Stanford Cardinal in consecutive weeks at home and at Stanford. They went on to get humiliated by Baylor in the Holiday Bowl.  What was considered to be an extremely successful season for Jim Mora, Jr. at 9-2, quickly turned to mediocre and pedestrian.

    The recruiting class is looking good, however. Scout.com has the Bruins' class ranked as the No. 2 class in the conference and No. 10 in the country, with 12 4-star commits.  

    The Sun Devils lost at home to the Bruins in 2012 on a last second field goal, but I don't see it being that close in 2013.

    Arizona St. 28, UCLA 35

Week 13: Arizona Wildcats

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    Date: Nov. 30, 2013

    Location: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.

    Opponent 2012 Record: 8-5, 4-5 Pac-12 

    Why isn't this game scheduled for the traditional day after Thanksgiving in 2013? I am a little more than perturbed by this, as both the Civil War and Apple Cup are still on that day.

    The Wildcats flirted with greatness last year but ended up with a losing conference record—again.

    Every time the Wildcats appeared to be on a roll, they would stumble. They dropped 59 points on No. 18 Oklahoma St. then got shut out, 49-0 to Oregon. They beat USC in a shootout for the ages, 39-36, then lost 66-10 to UCLA. 

    Their last minute heroics in the New Mexico Bowl vs. Nevada propelled them to 8 wins and saved their season.

    The traditional rivalry against Arizona State will be played in Tempe in 2013, and that isn't necessarily good news for the Sun Devils. The home team has only won six times in the past 20 years.

    There is no amount of research or empirical data that can predict this game, as it is a rivalry game. The Wildcats have picked up three 4-star recruits and are ranked as the No. 19 class in the country from Scout.com, but their returning offense is in disarray.

    Arizona 14, Arizona St. 17

Final Analysis

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    The Pac-12 Championship game will be played on Dec. 7 at the home of the team with the best overall Conference record.

    I don't think I am putting the cart in front of the horse by saying that the Sun Devils will win the Pac-12 South division as long as they can keep their heads about them in the brutal Week 2-5 stretch. I am predicting that they finish 9-3 and even with the loss to UCLA, I see them representing the South in the Conference Championship.

    Who knows who will take the North division?  The favorites are Stanford and Oregon, but the possibilities are endless. 

    Let's just hope it will be a good game and that the Pac-12 sends their best to the Rose Bowl or even to the National Championship.

    Follow me on twitter at @asudave.

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