FOX Sports’ Mandel on the Pac-12 South race: ‘Why not ASU?’

Oct 12, 2016, 5:57 PM
Arizona State quarterback Manny Wilkins (5) warms up before an NCAA college football game against S...

Arizona State quarterback Manny Wilkins (5) warms up before an NCAA college football game against Southern California Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ryan Kang)

(AP Photo/Ryan Kang)
LISTEN: Stewart Mandel, Fox Sport college football analyst

College football reporters didn’t expect much from Arizona State this year after it finished with a 6-7 record in 2015. The Sun Devils were picked to finish fifth in the Pac-12 South during media day.

They are currently tied for first place with a 5-1 record, a surprise to many at the season’s midway point. However, FOX Sports college analyst Stewart Mandel isn’t shocked about how well the Sun Devils have been playing following a disappointing season.

“In the preseason, I thought they were one of the harder teams in the country to predict,” Mandel said while joining Bickley and Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “The one loss was discouraging because USC wasn’t playing well before that. It seems like Washington is head and shoulders above the others. If Washington goes to the playoff, then another Pac-12 team has to go to the Rose Bowl and why not ASU?”

A loss against Colorado (4-2) this weekend would put ASU’s momentum and hopes of attaining the Pac-12 South title in jeopardy.

But Mandel is impressed so far.

“ASU has been a pleasant surprise, the only bad thing is their games seem to end at 2 a.m. eastern and not many people outside of Arizona probably know how good of a team ASU is,” he said.

Although the Sun Devils are tied for first in the Pac-12 South with Utah, Mandel believes Utah is the better team. California handed Utah their only loss of the season, beating them 28-23.

Keep in mind, however, that Utah is far from healthy. The Utes are now on their sixth-string running back, and injuries across the league have made the Pac-12 South a wide open race.

“I think Utah at full strength is the best team in the Pac-12 south, but they have serious injury issues, they’re down another running back this week. I think ASU is the second-best team in the south, and if Utah doesn’t get much help at running back, ASU could sneak in there,” Mandel said.

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