2011 ASU Football: A season full of excitement and expectations

TEMPE AZ - SEPTEMBER 04: (L-R) Gregory Smith #17 head coach Dennis Erickson Vontaze Burfict #7 and Keelan Johnson #10 of the Arizona State Sun Devils lead teammates out onto the field prior the college football game against the Portland State Vikings at Sun Devil Stadium on September 4 2010 in Tempe Arizona. The Sun Devils defeated the Vikings 54-9. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

No more excuses. No more late game collapses. No more seasons that end without bowl victories. After three years of postseason absence, it is finally time for the Arizona State football team to break through.

Excitement and anticipation is high in Tempe and the setting could not be any more perfect for a breakthrough season.

2011 will be the inaugural season of the Pac-12. It will also be the inaugural season of the new-look Sun Devils. Confidence is high in quarterback Brock Osweiler because he finished the season strong. Fans are also confident about the Sun Devil offense that looked promising in the annual Spring Game. Although the defense struggled in the spring game, they are always dominant and there does not seem to be a lot of doubt about their talents.

All signs point to a successful 2011 football season if only the players can live up to their end of the bargain and perform on the field.

Excitement was high heading into the 2010 season as well, but something about this season just feels different.

The 2011 team seems to be more confident and is also more experienced and mature. Junior linebacker Vontaze Burfict has been praised this offseason for the dedication and hard work that he has begun to put in.

While Burfict's newfound maturity may be legitimate or just an attempt to increase his draft stock, it will help the Sun Devils either way.

The Pac-12 will also help ASU to have a successful football season because it will be easier than the Pac-10. Arizona State may not be the favorite to win the entire conference, thanks to Oregon and Stanford, but winning the Pac-12 South would certainly be an accomplishment to be proud of and it is something that they could not have done last year.

Winning the Pac-12 South, while a respectable and lofty goal, is also not that far fetched. If the NCAA upholds the punishments against USC, prohibiting them from attending a bowl game, then the Sun Devils should clearly be the favorites in the south.

The Trojans are currently banned from the postseason and the Sun Devils' other four Pac-12 South opponents, UCLA, UA, Colorado and Utah, all have question marks and vulnerabilities.

Certainly, the Sun Devils have the talent to compete in the Pac-12, but they had the talent to compete in the Pac-10 last year. No matter how much hype the Sun Devils have heading into 2011, they will need to do something that they only did on occasion in 2010: execute with consistency.

There were too many games in 2010 where the Sun Devils started strong and faltered at the end. If 2011 is going to live up to expectations, ASU will need to play four quarters of football each and every week.

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