Don’t let that 2-2 record from a coronavirus-shortened 2020 football season fool you — Arizona State is back, bringing both a loaded roster and hopes of a Pac-12 title into the 2021 campaign.
The Sun Devils are the No. 4 odds choice (at DraftKings sportsbook) to win the conference, with their +450 odds behind the +400 of USC in the South Division.
Along with the Trojans and North Division favorites Washington and Oregon, both +275 to win the conference with BetRivers sportsbook, Arizona State is one of the four clear favorites to contend for the league. That is evident in the huge drop in odds between the Sun Devils and the Pac-12’s No. 5 sports betting odds choices, Utah and UCLA at +1200.
Arizona State’s odds of winning the South Division are +175, just behind USC’s +125 with DraftKings sportsbook. The two division winners meet for the Pac-12 championship on Dec. 3 in Las Vegas.
Longshot For College Football Playoff Crown
The Sun Devils’ odds of winning the College Football Playoff with Unibet sportsbook are +10000 — tying them on the preseason list with Auburn, Iowa, Michigan and Washington.
Arizona State hasn’t been a serious player on the national scene since 2014 when it went 10-3 and ranked 12th in the final AP poll. Its two Rose Bowl appearances came after the 1986 and 1996 seasons.
But the program appears on an upward trend under coach Herm Edwards, who had 10 players named first- or second-team preseason All-Pac 12 by Athlon. Jayden Daniels is one of the league’s best returning quarterbacks, and the Sun Devils are loaded at the offensive skill positions and on defense.
The building blocks were evident even in the four games the Sun Devils played last season. Arizona State averaged 40 points per game — scoring 70 in a rout of rival Arizona — and allowed 23.3 on defense, best in the Pac-12 South. In 2019, ASU finished 8-5 and beat Florida State in the Sun Bowl.
BYU awaits in first road test
The Sun Devils ease into the season with a Sept. 2 opener against FCS opponent Southern Utah, then host a UNLV team that’s had just one winning season in the past two decades.
Arizona State’s first test should come Sept. 18 at BYU, which will be without quarterback Zach Wilson — the No. 2 pick in the recent NFL draft — but has enough returning starters elsewhere to remain formidable at home.
The Cougars are roughly a touchdown favorite over the Sun Devils in the preseason, according to sportsbooks that have released odds for Arizona sports betting that is scheduled to launch in the fall.
Arizona State’s Pac-12 hopes could hinge on back-to-back games against contenders USC and Washington, the first Nov. 6 in Tempe and the latter Nov. 13 at Seattle.