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2012 College Football Win Totals: Arizona State

2012 College Football Win Totals: Arizona State

Arizona State’s 2012 college football win totals at 5Dimes are set at under 4.5 (+120) or under 5 (-135) and over 4.5 (-160) or over 5 wins (+115).

After starting the 2011 season 6-2 including an impressive 43-22 win over USC, Arizona State imploded and lost their last 5 games.  HC Dennis Erickson was fired and after a disastrous head coaching search and hiring process, ASU hired former Pitt coach Todd Graham.

New Coach, New Culture

Seven months later new HC Todd Graham has energized the fan base and begun to change the culture in Tempe. But this is clearly a program in transition from the one that existed last year (which is a good thing).

With new coaches come new offensive and defensive schemes. The Devils will be transitioning  from a pass-heavy horizontal attack to a run-heavy spread offense that will stretch defenses vertically. Defensively ASU changes from a base 4-3 to a multi-set defense designed to attack opposing offenses.

Needless to say, like most transitions of this magnitude, it is going to take time and the Devils are sure to experience some inconsistencies along the way.

Graham was successful at Rice and Tulsa, but didn’t do so well in his one year at Pitt, so the jury is still out whether or not he can coach at this level.

2012 college football win totals - ASU QB Mike Bercovici

Mike Bercovici

The Passing Game is a Concern

Brock Osweiler threw for over 4000 yards and 26 TDs last year. He has taken his skills to the NFL. Two sophomores (Mike Bercovici and Taylor Kelly) and a redshirt freshman (Michael Eubank) are in a three-man battle for the starting job. All three are long on potential, but short on experience.

Whoever wins the job will not only be making his first career start come August 30th, but he will also be throwing to a group of very inexperienced receivers. ASU lost four extremely prolific receivers – Gerrell Robinson, George Bell, Mike Wille and Aaron Pflugard combined for 175 receptions and 2,728 yards last year.

Defense is a BIG question mark

The Sun Devils lose six of their top seven tacklers. They also lose their interceptions leader and sack leader. But the good news is that this defense wasn’t really that good last year so the losses are replaceable.

The Sun Devil DL does have some talent, Brandon McGhee returns from injury at LB and the secondary is capable, so ASU has some pieces in place to improve on last years poor showing. However, in 49 games as a DC, Chris Ball (ASU’s new DC) defenses have given up 30+ points 33 times and 40+ points 22 times. I can’t see Chip Kelly, Lane Kiffin or many other PAC 12 offenses worrying too much about the ASU D.

2012 college football win totals - ASU RB Deantre Lewis

Deantre Lewis

PAC 12’s Best RB Group?

Graham’s version of the spread focuses on the running game and it just so happens that ASU has arguably the best running back unit in the PAC 12 (though I hear they have some pretty decent running backs in Eugene).

The star is Cameron Marshall who rushed for 1,050 yards and 18 TDs last season. Depth makes this group special. Kyle Middlebrooks, James Morrison and Deantre Lewis are all proven commodities. Lewis’ return from injury (he missed last season after suffering a gunshot wound in the offseason) could be a big boost. In 2010, he rushed for 539 yards (5.86 ypr), 4 TDs and also had 23 receptions out of the backfield for 370 yards (16.1 ypc avg).

Playmakers in the Return Game

Over the last two seasons, ASU has ranked No. 3 and No. 10 in the nation in kickoff returns. Once again, the return game looks formidable.

Leading the way is senior Jamal Miles. Last year he set the school record with his third career kickoff return touchdown, and he also posted a terrific 16.6 yards average on punt returns.

Schedule Analysis and Projected Win Probabilities 

According to Phil Steele ASU has the 27th most difficult schedule in the nation. That is probably not a good thing considering the Sun Devils will be breaking in a new QB and new schemes on both sides of the ball. I expect a lot of up and downs.

2012 college football win totals Northern Arizona  (100%)
Illinois (50%)
@ Missouri  (25%)
Utah (50%)
@ California (25%)
@ Colorado(55%)
Oregon (25%)
UCLA  (50%)
@ Oregon State  (45%)
@ USC  (20%)
Washington State  (65%)
@ Arizona (45%)

The total number I come up for ASU is 555, or 5.55 wins based on the win probability numbers. Based on the projected “win value” for each game, which requires going through the schedule and figuring out if each game will be a “W″ (likely win), a “T″ (toss up) or a “L″ (loss), I give ASU 5 wins.

ASU’s 2012 college football win totals

Trips to Missouri, Cal and USC appear to be likely losses, as does Oregon at home. However, there is no other team on the schedule that will have a talent edge over the Sun Devils and they get Illinois, Utah and UCLA in Tempe. I see no reason why ASU cannot win a minimum of 5 games this season, and if the ball bounces favorably more often than not, 6 wins and a bowl game are within reach.

If you get a chance please check out the ASU Q & A I did a few weeks with College Football Zealots. Let me know of I am too much of a homer with my ASU assessment by leaving me a comment below. Thanks – Pez.



7 Responses to “2012 College Football Win Totals: Arizona State”

  1. SoonerBS says:

    Don’t be surprised if Northern Arizona beats Arizona State in the opener. It would certainly be an upset, but Northern Arizona will not be too bad this season.

    • Pezgordo Pezgordo says:

      SoonerBS, that is crazy talk. LOL! Actually I haven’t read much of anything about NAU this year. But the recruiting mismatch is just too big for the Lumberjacks to overcome.

      • SoonerBS says:

        Yeah, I hear you, Pez. There use to be a time whenever it was crazy to think that ANY FCS team could even contend with an FBS team, let alone beat one. But, alas, times have changed as we have witnessed several FCS victories over FBS teams the past several years.

        Just looking at the record, Northern Arizona was 4-7 last year which doesn’t seem very special. However, they play in one of the best conferences, if not THE best conference in the FCS, the Big Sky conference. Although NA lost 7 games, they were in almost every one of them losing most of them by only 3 points or less! Whenever you consider that fact and also that they bring nearly everyone back, I think they will give ASU a pretty good game.

        I’ll know a little more about them in a couple of weeks whenever Phil Steele gets his FCS Preview magazine sent out. But, there are a few links on the web to get some basic info on FCS teams out there.

  2. jimmyd says:

    HC Todd Graham: 1st he was the DC here in Tulsa, moves to Rice as HC for a year then returns to Tulsa as HC. While HC @ TU, the OC was Gus Malzahn, now HC at Ark. St. after his stint as OC at Auburn. Gus was the offensive guru. Todd the defensive. Graham was a disaster at Pitt. He may be one here at 1st. His defenses depend on speed and the players knowing what to do. I don’t think he has either here at ASU. He loves the no huddle spread, but its all predicated on the QB. A rookie in this spot is going to be tough. Asking the RBs to bail the QB out all the time may be asking to much this 1st year. People do love Todd Graham, he has energy and enthusiasm, and runs an exciting brand of football. But until he gets his own recruited players to fit his style ball, may be a long year.

    I think you give ASU too much credit vs. Ill & Utah at the beginning of the year. It’s going to take awhile for the new off/def to gel at ASU, even for home games. If they go on the road to Col. and lose a squeaker, this team may be so depressed and in the midst of whole sale changes by then they won’t win a game the rest of the way. This ASU team could go 1-11 and if Sooner is correct @ NAU (but no worry there, he never is)..could be a long year. I would lean to the under 5.

    Best of Luck Pez.


    • Pezgordo Pezgordo says:

      jimmyd, thanks for the thoughts. I am definitely first to admit that I want to give ASU as much benefit of the doubt as I can, while still trying to be objective.

      You do bring up some very good points about the new off/def probably needing some time to gel. However, let me offer a few thoughts/rebuttals:

      1. You suggest that ASU doesn’t have speed on defense. I don’t believe talent and athleticism is ASU’s problem. They have plenty of talent on hand. I’m not saying it is USC talent, but it is enough talent to beat all but two (USC & Oregon) teams on their schedule on a given day (I pick Mizzou & Cal as losses because they are away). Experience, as you point out, is the concern.

      2. Illinois will also be learning new off/def systems and though I agree w/ everyone that Utah will have a good season, I think it is more because of their schedule then their overall talent (which is no better than ASU’s, UCLA’s, AZ’s, etc. though I will concede they have a lot of experience).

      I’m projecting 5 wins …. 6 if they get some really good bounces (but I realize that is being very, very optimistic). Just don’t see this being a 1-11, 2-10 or even a 3-9 type of team. They are going to beat a few teams they aren’t expected to, and since expectations are so low, they really don’t have to worry about getting “upset” except by NAU (no way SoonerBS) and probably CU (they are already a 5 point favorite in that one according to the LVH).


  3. Terry says:

    Pez and jimmyd ….. I think you both are right. ASUs season can go either way. They have enough talent returning to win 6 or 7 games including a few they won’t be expectd to win as Pez says. But they will probably lose a few they shouldn’t because of the learning process that jimmyd talks about. I agree that USC, Oregon, Missouri and Cal are definite losses and NAU and colorado are wins. But feel they will be very fortunate to split the reamining six games, which would take them to only 5 wins. That appears to be their win ceiling and I think that will take a few of those good bounces that Pez is hoping for.

  4. jimmyd says:

    And all this just goes to show one thing. Those guys in Vegas are Real Good. One for an over, one for an under, and one for a tie. Just the kind of response Vegas is looking for. Looks like the 5 is a dead on number. No wonder all those sports books stay in business.

    And bye the bye, will be visting Vegas for the 1st weekend of football.


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