The Pac-10 has a pretty tough opening weekend, all in all.
UCLA heads to Manhattan to play Kansas State, Washington rolls into Provo to take on BYU, Wazzu visits Stillwater to play Oklahoma State, and Oregon State plays a de facto road game against TCU in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
USC and Arizona also take to the road for their opening game, traveling to play Hawai'i and Toledo, respectively. California, Oregon, and Stanford all stay home to play weak competition.
But Arizona State's season opener takes the cake: the Portland State Vikings.
Lets break down some vital statistics about Portland State.
College Football Subdivision: FCS
Conference: Big Sky
2009 Record: 2-9 (1-7)
Student Body Population (Undergraduate): 20,330 (per The Princeton Review)
When San Jose State backed out of their game with us last year, ASU was left in a bind: scheduling an opponent on extremely short notice. I imagine that all avenues were explored, but we were left with the FCS.
The issue here is not that Portland State is a bad team. The problem is that they offer nothing to Arizona State in terms of experience, difficulty, or room for improvement.
Any quarterback on this team, be it Steven Threet, Brock Osweiler, and Samson Szakacsy, could and will tear apart this defense, which gave up 41 points to Idaho State (a team we beat last season to the tune of 50-3).
The Sun Devils answer nothing by playing this team. Dismantling two straight FCS teams (NAU comes to town on September 11) before heading into Camp Randall to play Wisconsin does little to prepare the players for the huge jump in talent.
In the offseason, there were rumors of ASU picking up a big game against South Florida or Cincinnati. This didn't come to fruition, and as a result the fans and players suffer. It's difficult to figure out exactly why the negotiations fell apart, but the Sun Devils could have used another marquee game to bring the right kind of publicity to the team.
In the end, AD Lisa Love was forced to fill the schedule opening to pick up an easy victory for the program. As a result, ASU must win 5 out of their last 10 games in order to be bowl-eligible, and it would be a very impressive season for coach Erickson if he were able to pull that off.
While I hope this game against Portland State is the first of many victories for the Sun Devils in 2010, it's hard to get excited for a game that already has a predetermined outcome. With the 2011 schedule featuring two quality opponents (Missouri, at Illinois), it is my sincere desire that this situation never repeats itself - but lets get out there and cheer the Devils on anyway. See you on Saturday.