ASU Football: The Sun Devils path to bowl eligibility

BOULDER, CO - OCTOBER 06: Quarterback Manny Wilkins #5 of the Arizona State Sun Devils celebrates a touchdown in the first quarter against the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field on October 6, 2018 in Boulder, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
BOULDER, CO - OCTOBER 06: Quarterback Manny Wilkins #5 of the Arizona State Sun Devils celebrates a touchdown in the first quarter against the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field on October 6, 2018 in Boulder, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

At 3-3, ASU football is on pace to become bowl eligible for the second straight season. But can the Sun Devils maintain their stride heading into the second half of the year?

Three home wins, three road losses.

2018 has been a roller coaster ride for the Sun Devils. Two blowout wins over UTSA and Oregon State coupled with a big win over then 15th-ranked Michigan State has made ASU a team to be reckoned with when playing in the friendly confines of Sun Devil Stadium.

Away from Tempe, ASU has been anything but a force to be reckoned with thanks to losses to San Diego State, then No. 10 ranked Washington and the undefeated Colorado Buffaloes.

Where the rest of the season takes this Sun Devil team is difficult to say. But what is known for certain is if ASU is to reach a bowl game in 2018, they will need to win once away from Sun Devil Stadium.

The Sun Devils remaining home games include Stanford, UCLA and Utah in that order. With Stanford being a former top-10 team in the nation and Utah defeating the Cardinal this past week, both teams are a force to be reckoned with when they arrive in Tempe this fall.

Stanford visits the desert on Thursday night with, like the Sun Devils, a week and a half of rest.

Star running back Bryce Love missed Stanford’s last game against Utah with an ankle injury but with a week and a half of rest may be ready to return against ASU. Last season against ASU, the pre season Heisman candidate rushed for 301 yards in the Cardinal’s 34-24 win.

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If Love is back then Stanford should be the favorite even on the road. But if Love can’t play then expect Danny Gonzales to dial up the pressure on junior quarterback KJ Costello.

Costello has been solid this season with a 62.6 completion percentage but has been prone to mistakes with six interceptions on the season.

With or without Love, ASU may need to win this game to establish themselves as not only a bowl team but also a legitimate threat in the Pac-12 South.

A trip to USC then follows for the Sun Devils. The Coliseum is a tough place to play but USC has struggled this season with a true freshman at quarterback in JT Daniels. USC will be favored but ASU should give the Trojans a run for their money.

A road matchup against USC is then followed by a visit from Utah.

The Utes have had an interesting year so far. Without a significant win until this past weekend’s victory over Stanford, Utah has had trouble putting points up on the board but have done a great job at limiting their opponents point totals.

As the current favorites in the Pac-12 South, Utah is 18th in the country with only 17.2 points allowed per game so far this season. With a suffocating defense and a veteran coaching staff, Utah will give Edwards’ team fits.

A win over Utah could be monumental in ASU’s chances at a bowl game appearance with a potential win could giving the Sun Devils a real shot at playing in the Pac-12 championship game.

The Sun Devils finish off their 2018 home stand when a winless UCLA team comes to Tempe with another true freshman at quarterback in Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Similar to the UTSA and Oregon State matchups, ASU should handle this young UCLA team especially at home.

ASU do not play Washington State or California this season but instead head to Eugene to play the Ducks in their season finale against Pac-12 North opponents.

Oregon, unlike Michigan State and San Diego State, present a new challenge for ASU.

The Ducks uptempo offensive schemes and speed across the field will give the Sun Devils defense a different look. But with Oregon still being the No. 17 team in the nation, expect ASU to be the heavy underdogs against a quarterback who has the ability to carve up any defense in Justin Herbert.

The season finishes up for ASU with a road matchup against their arch nemesis in Arizona.

The Wildcats have struggled quite a bit this season with a 3-3 record that includes losses to Houston and USC at home. Khalil Tate has not been comfortable in Kevin Sumlin’s new system and the Wildcats have been far from a juggernaut on defense.

A win in Arizona could clinch a spot in a bowl game for ASU but a loss may do the exact opposite for Edwards’ team.

If ASU simply continued their fortunes at home and finished the season undefeated at Sun Devil Stadium then the Sun Devils will be participating in bowl season. But this outcome seems unlikely with a tough Utah team and a talented Stanford team both coming to Tempe.

Next. ASU Football: Why the Sun Devils have struggled on the road this season. dark

For ASU to be a bowl team in 2018, they will need a win at USC or in Tucson in order to have a chance at making a second straight bowl game appearance.