Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Top Ten Wins in Sun Devil History - Baker's Dozen Edition

Last year, I published a list the Sun Devil football program's ten biggest wins. I received some excellent feedback, and it was clear I missed two critical victories: the 1975 win over Arizona, and the 1986 defeat of Washington. Also, the 2014 season saw the win over Notre Dame which, I believe, belongs on this list. So in advance of the 2015 season, here is the updated list of the ten thirteen biggest wins in ASU history.

In chronological order:
  • November 30, 1968 beat Arizona 30-7 - the "Ultimatum Bowl", leading to the formation of the Fiesta Bowl
  • December 30, 1970 beat North Carolina 48-26 in the Peach Bowl - ASU's first major bowl, its first game in the Eastern time zone, and one of its first nationally televised games
  • November 29, 1975 beat Arizona 24-21 - "The Catch" secures the win for 10-0 8th ranked ASU over the 9-1 12th ranked Wildcats
  • December 26, 1975 beat Nebraska 17-14 in the Fiesta Bowl – ASU finishes the season unbeaten, ranked #2 in the nation
  • October 14, 1978 beat USC 20-7 - ASU's inaugural season in Pac-10; Trojans came in ranked #2 and finished the season as national champions
  • January 1, 1983 beat Oklahoma 32-21 in the Fiesta Bowl - arguably ASU's greatest ever defensive unit
  • November 1, 1986 beat Washington 34-21 - #7 ASU beats #6 UW to move within one game of the program's first Rose Bowl
  • November 8, 1986 beat Cal 49-0 - clinches ASU's first ever Rose Bowl appearance
  • January 1, 1987 beat Michigan 22-15 in the Rose Bowl - ASU victory in the granddaddy of them all
  • September 21, 1996 beat Nebraska 19-0 - Cornhuskers came in as two-time defending national champions and ranked #1
  • November 23, 1996 beat Arizona 56-14 - a total destruction of the Wildcats in Tucson to cap an undefeated regular season
  • November 23, 2013 beat UCLA 38-33 - ASU clinches the Pac-12 South division title
  • November 8, 2014 beat Notre Dame 55-31 - in a matchup of top ten teams, ASU responds to a furious comeback to win impressively on a national stage

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sun Devils' future non-conference opponents

Originally Published 12/4/2009
Last Updated 7/26/2015 with the announcement of the UNLV series.

This post starts with a strong caveat: much of this information will probably change in the years ahead. With that said, fans are always interested in examining future schedules, so I wanted to keep an up-to-date summary of what we know. I will update this article over time as new announcements are made.

This topic became especially relevant prior to the 2010 season, where the scheduling of two FCS opponents kept the Devils out of a Bowl game. Fortunately, our future non-conference schedules are much stronger.

Remember that with the Pac-12 schedule, in odd-numbered years we have five conference home games, including divisional opponents USC, Colorado and AU. In even-numbered years, we play only four conference home games (including Utah and UCLA). It's going to be a lot harder to sell season tickets in those even-numbered years. The Pac-12 will no longer announce the conference schedule years in advance. They will now wait until the end of the prior year to set the schedule for the coming season. This allows the conference to ensure good games for the new Pac-12 Network based on each team's projected performance. However, we do know which Pac-12 teams ASU will play each season through 2018.

Let's review the out-of-conference schedule. As most fans know, the traditional philosophy behind the non-conference scheduling has been to have an "A", "B" and "C" level opponent. The additional requirement is to have at least two of the games at home, especially in even-numbered years when we only have four conference games at Sun Devil Stadium. However, from 2011-13 we saw more of an "A, A, C" model. DevilsDigest.com published a Q&A with Associate Athletic Director Mark Brand in February 2010 that explains the process in a lot of detail. I never understand fan criticism of our scheduling, because most neutral parties see our out-of-conference schedule as one of the best year-in, year-out.

Jeff Metcalfe's articles in the Republic from September 2009 and February 2010 do a great job of describing the problems finding non-conference opponents, and Doug Haller's article from September 2012 explains how the new playoff will impact non-conference scheduling.

The "A" level opponent is from a Power Five conference. In recent seasons, Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin have been "A" level opponents. ASU was planning to play a home-and-home series with LSU in 2015 and 2016 but that series has been pushed back to 2022-23.

Ideally, we should play an "A" level opponent at home in even-numbered years to counter the lack of quality Pac-12 opponents. We have achieved that goal for 2012 through 2022 after striking out in 2010.

The "B" level opponent is from a FBS "Group of Five" conference such as the MWC or C-USA. In the past, these schools may have played twice at ASU in return for one game at their site, but is seems like we will have a harder time finding "B" level opponents in coming seasons. New Mexico is the next opponent in this category in 2014-15, followed by UTSA and San Diego State. Each of these series are home-and-home.

The "C" level opponent is usually an FCS school, and is always going to be an opponent that does not require a return visit. We try to schedule NAU as often as possible for this slot, which is a nice way to keep the money in-state.

Coach Todd Graham has placed additional emphasis on recruiting in Texas, and games in Texas are of special value. After playing Notre Dame in Dallas in 2013, ASU plays in Houston (2015), San Antonio (2016) and Lubbock (2017).

So let's review the current plans for future seasons. Click on links for announcements of specific games. Actual dates shown when known.

Year FBS Power 5 FBS Group of 5 FCS Pac-12 Misses




2015 Texas A&M** (9/5) New Mexico (9/19) Cal Poly (9/12) Oregon State
Stanford
2016 Texas Tech (9/10) @ UTSA (9/17) NAU (9/3) Oregon State
Stanford
2017* @ Texas Tech (9/16)New Mexico State (9/2) -- Washington State
San Diego State (9/9) Cal
2018 Michigan State (9/8) UTSA (9/1) -- Washington State
@ San Diego State*** (9/15) Cal
2019 @ Michigan State (9/14) TBD TBD TBD
2020 BYU (9/19) @ UNLV (9/12) NAU (9/5) TBD
2021 @ BYU (9/18) UNLV (9/11) TBD TBD
2022 LSU (9/10) TBD TBD TBD
2023 @ LSU (9/9) TBD TBD TBD

* ASU was originally due to play at Notre Dame in 2017 but that game was later canceled.
** The Texas A&M game in 2015 will be played at NRG Stadium in Houston, TX.
*** The San Diego State game in 2018 was originally scheduled for 9/8/18 but was later moved to 9/15/18 to accommodate the Michigan State game.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Top Ten Wins in Sun Devil History

On the eve of a new season for ASU football, here's a list of the program's ten biggest wins, which includes last year's victory over UCLA.

In chronological order:
  • November 30, 1968 beat Arizona 30-7 - the "Ultimatum Bowl", leading to the formation of the Fiesta Bowl
  • December 30, 1970 beat North Carolina 48-26 in the Peach Bowl - ASU's first major bowl, its first game in the Eastern time zone, and one of its first nationally televised games
  • December 26, 1975 beat Nebraska 17-14 in the Fiesta Bowl – ASU finishes the season unbeaten, ranked #2 in the nation
  • October 14, 1978 beat USC 20-7 - ASU's inaugural season in Pac-10; Trojans came in ranked #2 and finished the season as national champions
  • January 1, 1983 beat Oklahoma 32-21 in the Fiesta Bowl - arguably ASU's greatest ever defensive unit
  • November 8, 1986 beat Cal 49-0 - clinched ASU's first ever Rose Bowl appearance
  • January 1, 1987 beat Michigan 22-15 in the Rose Bowl - ASU victory in the granddaddy of them all
  • September 21, 1996 beat Nebraska 19-0 - Cornhuskers came in as two-time defending national champions and ranked #1
  • November 23, 1996 beat Arizona 56-14 - a total destruction of the Wildcats in Tucson to cap an undefeated regular season
  • November 23, 2013 beat UCLA 38-33 - ASU clinches the Pac-12 South division title

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

And now the season begins

Prior to the start of the season, I predicted a 6-3 conference record for the Devils, and an 8-4 overall record. So far the season has gone exactly to form. The USC game was far more important than any of the others, and we won that one.

So here we sit on October 8: 1-0 against the Pac-12 South, 1-1 in the Conference. We still control our own destiny. According to Sagarin, we're the 20th ranked team in the country having played the nation's 7th toughest schedule. Wisconsin (18) and ASU are the only two-loss teams in the top 20.

The biggest concern at this time isn't so much the Devils (we are pretty much who we thought we are) as the other teams remaining on our schedule. Colorado is still weak, but they're improving. The road games at WSU and Utah will not be easy, and the home games versus Washington, Oregon State and UNRB are all dangerous. And that's not to mention the big game at the Rose Bowl on November 23. So while my 6-3 conference prediction is still very attainable, it's also not hard to see us ending the year at 4-5.

One stat that is very much NOT in the Sun Devils' favor: ASU lost the conference opener at Stanford. In 35 seasons of Pac-10/Pac-12 play from 1978 through 2012, ASU has lost the conference opener 19 times. In those seasons the Sun Devils have gone a combined 63-82-2 in conference games (a 43.5% win percentage). However, in the 14 seasons in which the Sun Devils won the first conference game, the composite record is 69-45-0 (a 60.5% win percentage). We tied our opener in 1983 and 1986 and finished a combined 9-4-2 in those seasons.

Since 1982, ASU has only once (in 1999) lost the conference opener and finished with a winning conference record. Conversely, 1994, 2008 and 2011 were the only seasons where the Sun Devils won their conference opener but finished below .500 in the Pac-10/12.

So if ASU does finish this season at 5-4 or better in the Pac-12, it will be just the second time in 30 years that we've bucked this trend.

Note: this article updates my original research from 2008.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Monday, August 6, 2012

Season tickets are in the mail!

Season ticket holders are starting to report that their tickets are arriving in the mail. Always a good sign that football is just around the corner! This season the package includes a copper and gold pitchfork (thanks to mDevil for the picture!).

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sun Devil Olympians

Love to see Sun Devil Olympian Kelsey Campbell throwing up the pitchfork during the Olympic opening ceremonies. Follow all of ASU's representatives in London on twitter by subscribing to this list.

Pre-season workouts wrap up

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring Practice Starts!



Left lane, hammer down!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

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