Arizona State has buzz in early 2021 college football rankings

Jan 13, 2021, 9:07 AM

Head coach Herm Edwards of the Arizona State Sun Devils during warm ups to the NCAAF game against t...

Head coach Herm Edwards of the Arizona State Sun Devils during warm ups to the NCAAF game against the Sacramento State Hornets at Sun Devil Stadium on September 06, 2019 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

It wasn’t a great year for the Arizona State Sun Devils.

They started 0-2, got sidelined due to the coronavirus yet finished with two wins, including a 70-7 beatdown of rival Arizona.

No team in the FBS played fewer games than ASU’s four. The Sun Devils joined only UMass, Washington, Cal and Washington State as teams that didn’t play at least five games.

The good news is head coach Herm Edwards and his staff have a young team and the buy-in. They have a strong returning group of players for the 2021 season.

After Alabama closed the season with a win over Ohio State in the College Football Playoff finale, it’s time to look ahead to next year.

Five of eight early 2021 college football rankings that we found across the internet include Arizona State.

Sun Devil fans may direct displeasure toward ESPN’s Mark Schlabach, Sporting News’ Bill Bender and CBS sports’ Dennis Dodd for leaving ASU off.

Here’s who did include the Sun Devils in their top-25 lists.

The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel

No. 25

QB Jayden Daniels came into the year a headliner, but ASU averaged 264.3 yards on the ground. Daniels and RBs Rachaad White and Chip Trayanum return. Most of the O-line is expected back as well. Oklahoma transfer TE Jalin Conyers could make an impact, and Herm Edwards could be on the hunt for transfer receivers. ASU’s leading tackler, S Evan Fields, and CBs Chase Lucas and Jack Jones all opted to return.

Stadium’s Brett McMurphy

No. 20

Herm Edwards has proven all those skeptics wrong that questioned his hiring. Now in his fourth year at Arizona State, this will be Edwards’ best and deepest team in Tempe. All 11 defensive starters are back and nine starters return from what was the Pac-12’s top offense last year in the yards per game category. Leading the offense is QB Jayden Daniels and RB Rachaad White aka “The Human First Down.” Last year, White averaged 10 yards a carry (420 yards on 42 carries).

Athlon’s Steven Lassan

No. 17

Arizona State only played in four games due to COVID-19, but the small viewing window for this team in 2020 showed a program on the verge of pushing for the Pac-12 title. Quarterback Jayden Daniels and a deep backfield with Rachaad White, Chip Trayanum and Daniyel Ngata led the way for an offense that paced the Pac-12 in scoring (40.3 ppg). The limited 2020 slate was a good opportunity for young receivers like Geordon Porter, LV Bunkley-Shelton and Johnny Wilson to get experience, with Elijhah Badger and Chad Johnson Jr. set to join the mix after sitting out in the fall.

Coach Herm Edwards has improved the talent and depth along the offensive line, and this unit is poised to be a strength in ’20, especially with left tackle Kellen Diesch set to return. With seniors Evan Fields, Jack Jones Chase Lucas, and DeAndre Pierce expected to pass on the NFL for one more year in Tempe, Arizona State will bring back its top 16 tacklers from 2020. This unit has room to improve against the run (ninth in the Pac-12) but allowed only 23.3 points a game last season. A non-conference game at BYU won’t be easy, and the Pac-12 road slate features trips to UCLA, Utah and Washington. But if the Sun Devils ace those tests, the home game versus USC could decide the Pac-12 South.

Pro Football Network’s A.J. Schulte

No. 21

Herm Edwards is building something out west. QB Jayden Daniels returns to lead another Arizona State offense that has plenty of talent, including transfer TE Jalin Conyers. CBs Jack Jones and Chase Lucas are coming back to lead the secondary again. They only played four games in 2020, but the team’s talent was evident. Edwards has a quality coaching staff building up in Tempe.

247 Sports’ Sam Hellman

No. 20

The Sun Devils had a significantly-shortened 2020 season with a 2-2 final record. After close losses to USC and UCLA, a massive blowout of Arizona and win over Oregon State ended things for Herman Edwards. Quarterback Jayden Daniels will be a top name in 2021. He had 701 passing yards, 223 rushing yards and nine total touchdowns in four games as a sophomore.

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