Rob Malara

First Take: ASU Releases 2017 Schedule

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Arizona State released its schedule for the 2017 football season on Wednesday morning. And while we’ve known about ASU’s non-conference opponents for sometime, a few things jumped off the page right away in how the schedule shakes out top-to-bottom.

We’ll begin to give a more comprehensive breakdown of each opponent this upcoming summer as we continue our annual Advanced Stats Report and Sun Devil Schedule Study previews, but for now here’s how next year’s schedule for the Devils appears at first glance.

https://twitter.com/FootballASU/status/821779804538028032

Not-in-the-face opponent: vs. New Mexico State (August 31)

If you asked each and every member of Sun Devil Nation, you might get a different answer in terms of their feelings on Thursday games.  Having played multiple weekday games each season over the past few years the Devils first and only one of these games on the schedule takes place on opening night against the Aggies.

Head coach Doug Martin’s team finished 3-9 in the Sun Belt in 2016 and hasn’t made a bowl game since 1960. Their defense allowed nearly 40 points per game last year and they weren’t anything special on the offensive side of the ball.  Thus they should provide the least amount of resistance on the 2017 schedule for the Devils and therefore be a much welcomed initial opponent for a Sun Devil team heading into 2017 with a revamped defensive scheme under first-year defensive coordinator Phil Bennett.

Toughest opponent: vs. Washington (October 14)

The Huskies are coming off their best season since winning the Rose Bowl back at the start of the millennium.  Chris Petersen has built what could be the next Pac-12 juggernaut after just three seasons in Seattle.

Junior quarterback Jake Browning will look to put disappointing efforts against the likes of Alabama, Colorado, and USC in the rearview mirror as the Huskies head to Tempe as the Devils sixth opponent on the 2017 schedule.

Alabama transfer quarterback Blake Barnett won’t be eligible to play until after the Oregon game on Sept. 23.  What will the depth chart look like at the position for the Devils by the time Barnett is eligible to play?  Will Todd Graham start him at Stanford the following week?  Or will he hold out until after the bye week leading into the Washington game?  That will be one of the focal points of late September and more so a story line leading into the season.

Trap game: at Texas Tech (September 16)

The Devils return to AT&T Stadium for the first time since losing to Notre Dame in the Shamrock Series, 37-34 back in 2013, in between home contests against San Diego State and its Pac-12 opener against Oregon.

Having survived the 2016 contest that totaled 123 points and 1,264 yards from scrimmage between the two schools, the Devils will hope to try to slow things down on the road against a Red Raiders team that totaled just 5 wins over the course of the season and will be forced to replace four seniors in its secondary.

The top passing offense in the country loses its quarterback, Patrick Mahomes II, to the NFL Draft but still should have some teeth.  Whether or not Bennett’s defense can survive the war could help shape some building blocks against the Ducks the following week.

Back on the schedule: Stanford and Oregon State

Gone are two Air Raid teams in California (at least under former head coach Sonny Dykes) and Washington State to be replaced by schools that really like to be physical and establish the run.

After losing twice to David Shaw (including the Pac-12 Championship game) in 2013, Todd Graham returned the favor in 2014, besting the Cardinal 26-10 at Sun Devil Stadium.  The two teams will face-off again at The Farm to close-out the first month of the schedule.

Many will remember the fateful night of November 15, 2014, when the Devils arrived in Corvallis with an 8-1 record, the sixth-ranked team in the country with a potential return to the Pac-12 Championship game just three wins away.  

They would unfortunately walk back to the locker room that night having watched the Beavers student section storm the field having been handed a 35-27 defeat, foreshadowing the disappointment that would take place over much of the next two seasons in Tempe under Graham.

Toughest stretch: Oct. 14 – Nov. 11

A five-game slate of games that starts with the Huskies and culminates with the Bruins looks to be the meat of the Devils schedule.  Four of the five teams finished 2016 ranked and the other is the yo-yo that is the UCLA Bruins.  

ASU will not play the LA schools back-to-back for the first time since 2013, instead they’ll have the luxury of a home game in-between against the ten-win Colorado Buffaloes who are coming off their best season since 2001.

Territorial Cup on Saturday: vs. Arizona (Nov. 25)

After the sacrilege that was playing Cal to finish up the 2015 regular season schedule, the Devils will host the Wildcats on Thanksgiving weekend and close out 2017 seeking revenge against the University of Arizona in the Territorial Cup.  Strangely enough, the game will be played on Saturday in what could prove to be Rich Rodriguez’s sixth and final season as head coach.

Much will be expected in terms of retribution for Graham and company after the Devils embarrassing 21-point loss to their in-state rivals down in Tucson back in November of last year.

 

2017 SUN DEVILS SCHEDULE

Aug. 31 – New Mexico State

Sept. 9 – San Diego State

Sept. 16 – at Texas Tech

Sept. 23 – Oregon

Sept. 30 – at Stanford

Oct. 7 – Bye Week

Oct. 14 – Washington

Oct. 21 – at Utah

Oct. 28 – USC

Nov. 4 – Colorado

Nov. 11 – at UCLA

Nov. 18 – at Oregon State

Nov. 25 – Arizona

About Rob Malara

Rob Malara

Rob Malara is a 2002 Sun Devil grad having spent the majority of his time in Tempe as a football, basketball, and baseball season ticket holder and front row inhabitant. A member of the Football Writers Association of America, he hosted the ASU Devils podcast and was its sub-optimal technical producer through its lifespan. Currently the president of the ASU Alumni Association's Northern Colorado Club, he is part of a family of maroon and gold residing in Fort Collins with his Sun Devil wife and nearby Sun Devil sister.

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1 Comment

  1. Patrick

    March 10, 2017 at 12:31 AM

    I had to move to Colorado a while back. Can't wait until my alma mater comes to town to show these people how to play football!

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