While the Sun Devils have gotten a lot of criticism for having a weak non-conference schedule, it will give ASU football the beginning to the season that they need in order to succeed.
Last season, the Sun Devils did not benefit from their out of conference schedule. It was match-ups that either had ASU coasting to victories or saw their problems being exposed and exploited. This upcoming season features a non-conference schedule that could actually benefit the Sun Devils.
The Sun Devils have their schedule set up so that they have the team that will cause them the most trouble, Texas Tech, sandwiched in between two games that ASU should win, against Northern Arizona and UTSA.
The first game of the season, Northern Arizona, will be a good first game for a new ASU quarterback, regardless of who the starter will be. This match-up allows ASU to still tweak some things and give the quarterback reps in a real game situation with room for mistakes. This game would best benefit the Sun Devils if it were to be a game where they still end up winning by at least 17, but the other team scored off of mistakes by ASU.
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The next game, Texas Tech, will be the game to watch. Both teams have about the same skill level and the same style of play. Each team will also be looking for a victory in this game to give them momentum early in the season.
This game will be the time for ASU to prove what they are worth. A victory in this game would give fans the right to have heightened expectations on the season, while a loss would signal a season similar to this past season.
The third game of the season, at UTSA, will be the perfect tune-up game before Pac-12 play begins. All the kinks in the offense should be worked out and mistakes should be minimal.
The Sun Devils will have the chance to come into this game 2-0 with a great opportunity to leave the game as victors of three-straight. Being 3-0 going into Pac-12 play would provide great confidence for everyone involved with ASU football, and all the players would have three strong games under their belts.
While this may not be the most difficult non-conference schedule out there, it is a great non-conference schedule for ASU. Having a tough game in between two easier games will give ASU the ability to work certain things out and test players before Pac-12 play begins.