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Mandel predicts winless Arizona football in 2020, ASU to finish 7-3

Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin reacts to an official's call in the first half during an NCAA college football game against Southern Utah, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The Pac-12 schedule for 2020 is out, and that means it’s time for college football pundits to begin projecting the paths to conference titles as leagues begin releasing their reduced schedules.

Arizona and Arizona State are slated to begin a 10-game, Pac-12-only campaign against one another, but The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel doesn’t expect it to go well for the Wildcats. In fact, he has zero optimism about coach Kevin Sumlin’s program.

Like, literally: zero.

Mandel picked Arizona to finish the coronavirus-shortened season with a 0-10 record. Writes Mandel, quite bluntly:

The best-case scenario for Kevin Sumlin’s third season is that it gets canceled altogether.

Harsh.

The Wildcats went 4-8 last season and 2-7 in conference play before pulling in a recruiting class that ranked dead last in the Pac-12 and 60th in the nation, according to 247 Sports. That placed UA just behind Syracuse and just ahead of Wake Forest, Rutgers and Duke — not exactly college football powerhouses.

Mandel had better things to say about Arizona’s rival up the I-10. He has the Sun Devils going 7-3 to finish second in the Pac-12 South behind the USC Trojans.

The writer’s predictions have ASU beating Arizona, Stanford, UCLA, Colorado, Utah, Washington State and Oregon State. Herm Edwards’ team, Mandel projects, will lose at Oregon, at USC and against Cal.

Herm Edwards has a rising star to build around now in sophomore QB Jayden Daniels, though the Sun Devils’ offense is going to be relying heavily on freshmen at the skill positions and transfers up front. But I could certainly see the defense taking some big strides with the direction of highly overqualified coordinator Marvin Lewis.

Though Arizona State replaced both offensive and defensive coordinators from 2019, it went 8-5 a year ago, finishing the season strong with a win over No. 6 Oregon, a defeat of the Wildcats and a bowl game victory against Florida State.

ASU’s recruiting class ranked 23rd in the nation, according to 247 Sports, and the momentum is all there for the Sun Devils to take another step up in the college football hierarchy.


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