(Marana, AZ) The 2020 Sun Devil football season came to a close yesterday after their victory over the Oregon State Beavers in Corvallis.
This season prior to Covid, was to be a breakout campaign for Coach Herm Edwards. Some pundits had the Devils competing with Southern California for the PAC-12 South title.
No one could have predicted the way this season unfolded. The latest start in school history after the PAC-12 reconsidered and voted to play an abbreviated football schedule. ASU had arguably the strangest set of circumstances to go through just to be able to play four games.
In the opening game on November 7th, Sparky traveled west to the Los Angeles Coliseum for a marquis matchup with the USC Trojans.
Although sloppy play at times plagued both teams, ASU was clearly the better team in the first half. The Devils were clicking on offense, defense and special teams.
The second half would see Arizona State get the minimum out of the maximum and allowed Kedon Slovis and SC stay within striking distance and two late fourth quarter touchdowns let the Trojans escape with a 28-27 victory.
Then the Covid situation came into play. Thinking that they would return to Tempe for their home opener against the Berkley Bears the following week,
The Cal game scheduled for November 13th had to be canceled due to positive Covid tests from several players and coaches including Head Coach Herm Edwards.
The following week, the November 28th game against Utah was rescheduled for the following day the 29th but was ultimately canceled when the Utes didn’t have enough scholarship players due to the coronavirus.
Finally on December 5th, the Sun Devils got to play at home after two consecutive cancellations and a bye week culminating in a month layoff. The UCLA came in also having had some of their games canceled as well.
After spotting the Bruins a 17-0 lead, ASU clawed its way back to take the lead 18-17 in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, just as in the first game against the Trojans, the Devils once again let this game slip away and now found themselves with an 0-2 record.
It’s very difficult to have any on-field continuity when you’re preparing for one opponent and have an eleventh hour cancellation. No matter how strong minded the players are, this definitely had an affect not only physically but more-so on the mental side.
This was not an 0-2 team as their record showed. Arizona State and Utah at this point in the season had played the fewest games of any conference teams.
The Devils coaching staff continued their course on game planning and development, trying to put a positive spin on what they couldn’t control.
With only a six day turnaround for a game that is normally played on Thanksgiving weekend, Arizona State headed down the 10 Freeway for the their Territorial Cup matchup with the Wildcats.
For the first time all year, ASU looked like the team that everyone had expected. Everything went the Sun Devil’s way and nothing went right for Arizona.
Like players who expect an easy game against a lesser opponent, this contest turned into a “stat game” as records fell by the wayside in the most lopsided victory this rivalry had ever seen and a 70-7 massacre.
Days later the University of Arizona fired Head Coach Kevin Sumlin who failed to win any games against the Devils.
In the final game of the season against the Beavers of Oregon State, ASU continued its stellar play which sometimes isn’t the case coming off a blowout win.
The offense rushed for 375 yards against the porous Beaver defense and the Sun Devils defense forced two turnovers.
Both the offensive and defensive play was on point for the second consecutive game. This type of play was what Sun Devil fans were expecting the the entire year.
After the game, the coaching staff and school administration decided not to participate in a post season Bowl Game siting player safety and health.
So in the season that saw only four games in two months, the Sun Devils went from a team that couldn’t finish a tight contest letting two fourth quarter leads end in defeat, to a juggernaut that laid waste to their final two opponents.
Coach Edwards had to be pleased that his squad finished very strong and will springboard this momentum into the Spring of 2021 when we all hope that life and athletics return to normal.