Arizona State a Commanding Favorite in 2021 Season Opener

Arizona State a Commanding Favorite in 2021 Season Opener

The Arizona State University Sun Devils should have a laugher of an opening game, if the early line from new Arizona sports betting apps is correct.

Arizona sports betting doesn’t launch until Sept. 9. The Sun Devils will kick off their season on Thursday night against a Football Championship Subdivision squad, Southern Utah, at Sun Devil Stadium.

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The contest, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. local time Thursday, will be carried on the Pac-12 Network.

The Sun Devils are 44.5-point favorites against the Thunderbirds, according to BetMGM Arizona and BetRivers Arizona.

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Early registration for Arizona sports betting began Aug. 28, the day after the state gave approval for 18 sports betting licenses. Sportsbook operators have been enticing new bettors with the best Arizona sports betting promos during early registration.

The state appears on track to launch its market at the start of Arizona NFL betting — the first regular-season game is Sept. 9. Arizona Cardinals betting is expected to help drive the market and the Cardinals play their first game on Sept. 12 at the Tennessee Titans.

Season of High Expectations in Tempe

The Sun Devils carry outsized expectations entering the fourth year of head coach Herm Edwards’ tenure in Tempe.

The Sun Devils have gone 7-6 and 8-5 in Edwards’ first two full seasons at ASU, with a 2-2 mark in a COVID-19-shortened 2020 campaign that saw three games canceled due to virus-related issues.

Arizona State have the second-best odds of any Pac-12 Conference South Division team (+400 at Arizona FanDuel and +450 by Bet365) to win the Pac-12 championship in 2021.

The Sun Devils were picked to finish third in the division in the Pac-12 media preseason poll, behind USC and Utah, though the Sun Devils garnered six first-place votes.

Much of the team’s stock will rest on the outsized right shoulder of junior quarterback Jayden Daniels, who threw 17 touchdowns to two interceptions in his lone full season in Tempe, back in 2019.

Daniels was named to the preseason Manning Award and Walter Camp Award watch lists over the summer and currently has +3500 odds, tied for ninth, at winning the 2021 Heisman Trophy, per DraftKings Arizona.

Meet the Thunderbirds

The Thunderbirds are coming off a 1-5 campaign in the FCS’ shortened spring season earlier this year, finishing second-to-last among the eight members of the Big Sky Conference that played.

All five of Southern Utah’s losses came by single digits a season ago, against Northern Arizona twice (34-33 and 28-20), Idaho State (26-24), Idaho (33-32) and Weber State (19-16).

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The Thunderbirds’ one win of the spring season came against Cal Poly, who they beat 34-24 on March 13.

Southern Utah has reached the FCS Playoff three times since moving up a level in 1993, most recently doing so in 2017.

The Thunderbirds lost their season opener against San Jose State University, 45-14, on Saturday night.

The team was led offensively by quarterback Justin Miller, who completed 15-of-29 passes for 117 yards, while running back Karris Davis had a team-high 32 yards on five carries during the loss.

Southern Utah is coached by Demario Warren, who has posted a 18-25 record at the school.

Looking Forward

The Sun Devils return to Sun Devil Stadium for a home game with UNLV at 7:30 p.m. local time on Sept. 11. The sports betting market in Arizona should be up and running.

No betting line has been posted for that contest, though the Sun Devils are 0-1 all time against the Rebels.

The two sides previously met in 2008, with the Sun Devils losing that contest, 23-20 in Tempe.



Christopher Boan

Christopher Boan is the lead writer at after covering sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, including stops at, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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