Editor’s note: Second in a series of stories examining the 12 football programs in the Pac-12.

If Arizona State’s offense is as good as advertised this fall, the Sun Devils could contend for the Pac-12 South Division championship.

ASU will make two stops in the Beehive State this fall — Sept. 18 at BYU and Oct. 16 at Utah. 

Under coach Herm Edwards, Arizona State led the conference in total offense and scoring offense in 2020 — and this season the Sun Devils return most of their star offensive players, headlined by sophomore quarterback Jayden Daniels.

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Entering his third season as a starter, the dual-threat Daniels will need to take another step forward, particularly when it comes to his accuracy and decision-making. Not only are most of his wide receivers back, but ASU adds Utah transfer Bryan Thompson to the fold

Four of the Sun Devils’ five starting offensive linemen return as does running back Rachaad White, who finished 2020 as the team’s leader in rushing and receiving yards. 

Defensively, the Sun Devils are led by defensive end Tyler Johnson, who tallied five sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss in four games in 2020. Meanwhile, Louisiana State transfer defensive end Travez Moore could make ASU’s front seven formidable with linebackers Merlin Robertson and Darien Butler. 

Word on the street

“This is a tough call, but I’m taking Arizona State to win the South this season. The Sun Devils return nearly every major contributor from the 2020 season, including a rising star quarterback in Jayden Daniels and one of the deepest running back rooms in college football. Also, the offensive line is poised to take a step forward, and while there’s no clear No. 1 target in the receiving corps, there’s no lack of talent. The Sun Devils led the Pac-12 in scoring defense last year (23.3 points a game) and the defensive line, linebacker and secondary units all rank among the best in the conference. The schedule does feature tough treks to Utah and Washington. However, USC visits Tempe and Oregon is not on the regular-season slate. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Arizona State, USC or Utah win the South, but I think the Sun Devils return to the Pac-12 title game for the first time since ’13.”

— Steven Lassan, writing for Athlon Sports

By the numbers

2020 record: 2-2 (2-2 Pac-12)

Returning starters: Offense: 7; defense: 8

Players with local ties: None

2021 schedule

Sept. 2 Southern Utah

Sept. 11 UNLV

Sept. 18 @ BYU

Sept. 25 Colorado

Oct. 2 @ UCLA

Oct. 8 Stanford

Oct. 16 @ Utah

Oct. 30 Washington State

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Nov. 6 USC

Nov. 13 @ Washington

Nov. 20 @ Oregon State

Nov. 27 Arizona

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