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ASU Football: Preseason Prediction Roundtable

We got together with the fine folks over at the State Press as well as our comrades across the SB Nation network to forecast ASU's 2013 football season. With a panel of 17 writers making predictions, there wasn't much elbow room around our maroon and gold crystal ball.

We could be wrong but we believe this is photo evidence of Todd Graham predicting his team will start 5-0.
We could be wrong but we believe this is photo evidence of Todd Graham predicting his team will start 5-0.

Hype is a familiar temptress for the Arizona State Sun Devils over the last few seasons. And each time this fan base has begun to buy into the expectations, they've been rewarded with a swift slap to the face.

Of course, that was before head coach Todd Graham took over in Tempe. But considering how low the bar was set last year, it's hard to say for certain whether or not he's the man to get ASU over their flash-in-the-pan stigma.

Regardless of where you stand, most can agree that this is the most fan confidence the program has had entering a season since perhaps the late 90's. So we decided to ask around in an effort to discover if the maroon and gold faithful should truly be buying in this season.

The Panel

House of Sparky Staff

Kerry Crowley: Co-Managing Editor | Cody Ulm: Co-Managing Editor

Ben Haber: Football Beat Writer | Ryan Bafaloukos: Basketball Beat Writer

Nick Marek: Hockey Beat Writer | Casey Rusnak: Staff Writer

Mauricio Casillas: Staff Writer | Nick Krueger: Director of Social Media

State Press Staff

Danny Shapiro: Football and Baseball Beat Writer | Josh Nacion: Football Beat Writer

Eric Smith: Football Beat Writer

House of Sparky Editor(s) Emeritus

Brad Denny: KTVK 3TV Sportswriter/Social Media Manager | Cory Williams: Vox Media Support Manager

Guest Contributors

Jaime Eisner: Managing Editor of Five For Howling | Jess Root: Managing Editor of Revenge of the Birds

Austin Controulis: President of the Walter Cronkite Sports Network | Jason Galvin: Cronkite Sports Football Analyst

The Predictions

Rushing Yardage Leader: Marion Grice (16 votes), D.J. Foster (Eisner)

Rushing Touchdown Leader: Marion Grice (15 votes), D.J. Foster (Bafaloukos, Krueger)

Offensive Total Yardage Leader (Non-QB): Marion Grice (ten votes), D.J. Foster (seven votes: Crowley, Bafaloukos, Marek, Shapiro, Eisner, Controulis, Galvin)

Receiving Yardage Leader: D.J. Foster (eight votes), Jaelen Strong (five votes: Crowley, Kruger, Denny, Eisner, Galvin), Chris Coyle (three votes: Haber, Bafaloukos, Marek), Rick Smith (Shapiro)

Receiving Touchdown Leader: Chris Coyle (9 votes), Jaelen Strong (four votes: Ulm, Haber, Bafaloukos, Williams), D.J. Foster (Root), Kevin Ozier (Shapiro), Rick Smith (Nacion), Darwin Rogers (Eisner)

Over/Under 24.5 Passing Touchdowns for Taylor Kelly: Over (13 votes), Under (four votes: Ulm, Krueger, Marek, Eisner)

Sack Leader: Carl Bradford (11 votes), Will Sutton (six votes: Rusnak, Krueger, Nacion, Smith, Eisner, Root)

Tackle Leader: Chris Young (14 votes), Carl Bradford (Casillas, Krueger, Nacion)

Tackle for Loss Leader: Will Sutton (nine votes), Carl Bradford (seven votes: Ulm, Haber, Rusnak, Shapiro, Nacion, Smith, Denny), Chris Young (Crowley)

Interception Leader: Alden Darby (15 votes), Osahon Irabor (Ulm), Robert Nelson (Eisner)

Over/Under 75% Field Goals Made for Kicking Game: Over (11 votes), Under (six votes: Ulm, Bafaloukos, Casillas, Smith, Eisner, Root)

Offensive MVP: Marion Grice (eight votes), Taylor Kelly (five votes: Casillas, Krueger, Marek, Nacion, Smith), D.J. Foster (four votes: Ulm, Shapiro, Eisner, Controulis)

Defensive MVP: Carl Bradford (eight votes), Will Sutton (seven votes: Haber, Rusnak, Krueger, Nacion, Eisner, Root, Galvin), Chris Young (two votes: Crowley, Williams)

Breakout Player: Jaelen Strong (five votes), Rick Smith (four votes: Ulm, Haber, Shapiro, Galvin), Marion Grice (three votes: Rusnak, Williams, Eisner), De'Marieya Nelson (three votes: Bafaloukos, Casillas, Denny), Robert Nelson (Krueger), Chris Young (Root)

Biggest Win: Notre Dame (nine votes), Wisconsin (four votes: Ulm, Krueger, Marek, Controulis), UCLA (three votes: Bafaloukos, Nacion, Smith), USC (Eisner)

Most Disappointing Loss: UCLA (seven votes), Washington (four votes: Haber, Casillas, Krueger, Root), Oregon State (two votes: Shapiro, Nacion), USC (Crowley), Notre Dame (Eisner), Washington State (Bafaloukos), Pac-12 Title Game (Galvin)

Kerry Crowley's Season Projection

I think this Sun Devil team really has the ability to take the nation by surprise this season. If Arizona State can fight through the first five games of the season and escape with a 3-2 record, then I fully expect this team to pull off a 10-win season and shoot up the national rankings. Wins amount to confidence and the latter half of the schedule lends itself to victories. The Sun Devils have all the pieces in place to win the Pac-12 South and I think if they fall short of doing that, then it will come as a surprise to most people who follow the team closely. I put the Sun Devils at 10-3, because I expect them to make it to and lose the Pac-12 Championship game to a North team (Stanford or Oregon) competing for a BCS National Championship. I would not be surprised if the Sun Devils suffered to an 8-5 record because of their strength of schedule, but I also wouldn't be shocked to see this team representing the conference in the Rose Bowl. ASU's Projected Record: 10-3 Biggest Strength: Marion Grice Biggest Concern: Run Defense

Cody Ulm's Season Projection

I just can't fathom a way in which the Sun Devils top UCLA on the road. But the good news is that I still have ASU winning the South with the Bruins losing to Stanford, Oregon and USC. Although previous Sun Devil teams would be prone to slip up against a team like Washington State or Washington following that tough initial stretch, I don't see it this year. ASU will fall to Stanford and Notre Dame but I believe Graham will do everything in his power to ensure his team is stronger because of those losses. For that reason, the Devils should go 6-1 over those final seven games. Should is the key word there, so it certainly wouldn't hurt if the Huskies helped out with a win at UCLA. I think the safest expectation would be to say this Pac-12 South race comes down to the final week. And ASU aggressive tactics on offense and defense will give them the best chance to survive that type of heated three-team race. Just don't expect to smell the roses in 2013. Projected Record: 9-4 Biggest Strength: Attacking defense Biggest Concern: Depth along offensive line

Ben Haber's Projection

I was the sole House of Sparky staff member last year to say ASU would finish over .500. Besides tooting my own horn, it shows the confidence I have in Coach Todd Graham. I predict the Sun Devils finish 10-2, win the Pac-12 South and live up to the pre-season hype. Unfortunately, I believe either Stanford or Oregon will beat ASU in the conference championship matchup. The offense will be right around top five in the nation for scoring points, and the defense will continue to force lots of turnovers. ASU's Projected Record: 10-3 Biggest Strength: Offense Biggest Concern: Field Safety

Ryan Bafaloukos' Season Projection

I believe that Arizona State will make it out of the first five games with a record of 3-2. I think they beat Sacramento State and Wisconsin, lose to Stanford and spilt with Notre Dame and USC. Arizona State typically has a "let down " game every year, a game that they should win but fail to do so. I think a perfect game for that this year is Washington State. The Cougars looked to be improved against Auburn and ASU has to travel to Pullman, on a Thursday night in front of a national television audience. In the end I think ASU does enough to win the Pac-12 South and the Sun Devils lose to Stanford in the Pac-12 title game. 9-4 season record with a chance for 10 wins in a bowl game. Projected Record: 9-4 Biggest Strength: Depth along defensive line Biggest Concern: Size on defense

Nick Marek's Season Projection

I think the Sun Devils will finish 8-4 this season. The most difficult game on this schedule hands down is playing Stanford on the road, but I would say the team goes 3-2 after its first five games. Realistically, they want to be no worse than 4-1 to have momentum heading into the easier part of their conference schedule. Because I'm predicting a late season loss to UCLA, ASU will not make the Rose Bowl this year and they will have an easy bowl game - but not to their liking. The schedule is just a little too tough and I agree with Graham during the press conference... I wish he didn't already have to use one of his bye weeks before the season started. Projected Record: 8-4 Biggest Strength: Offensive weapons with up-tempo offense Biggest Concern: How ASU responds after first five games

Casey Rusnak's Season Projection

This is going to be the best Sun Devil football season we've seen in a long time. ASU should be able to bring home the Pac-12 South title that has been just out of reach in years past. UCLA will be the main competitor for the title, but back-to-back road games against Stanford then Oregon will be too much for the Bruins. Look for ASU to finish the season ranked somewhere in the high teens. Todd Graham still has work to do before the Sun Devils can hang with the Cardinal and Ducks, but there's no doubt he earns that contract extension this year. Projected Record: 10-3 Biggest Strength: Running backs Biggest Concern: Cornerbacks

Mauricio Casillas' Season Projection

I fully expect ASU to take the Pac-12 south, but a Rose Bowl berth seems a little lofty for me. I think they will ultimately finish 9-3, with losses coming at the hands of Stanford, USC and Washington. The highlight of the season will come when they take down Notre Dame in Jerry World. This team is stacked, but so is the Pac-12. Mike Norvell will have this offense working like a well-oiled machine, but my concern is that the defense will be susceptible to giving up the big play. This season will be a success, and the future will be bright for CTG. Projected Record: 9-4 Biggest Strength: The backfield Biggest Concern: Pass Defense

Nick Krueger's Season Projection

I'm still not completely sold on the passing game. Fans should be prepared for ASU to run the ball a lot more than necessary. Strong will be a nice asset but not enough to carry the entire wide receiving core. The defense will be tops in the nation with the help of Carl Bradford but Stanford and UCLA will be too good while Washington is a loss from exhaustion. There is just too much hype surrounding this team. They will be ranked in the 11-19 range by the end of the season but the Sun Devils end up in the Holiday bowl because of the loss to UCLA. I'm not worried about the offensive line or the running game, but once every other team figures out the offensive schemes (as was the case last year) ASU could be dead in the water. Projected Record: 9-3 Biggest Strength: Will Sutton Biggest Concern: The wide receivers

Danny Shapiro's Season Projection

The Sun Devils are the third best team in the Pac-12 and will show that to the rest of the conference this year. The Devils have twice the playmakers offensively this year compared to last year and Will Sutton, Carl Bradford and Alden Darby are going to anchor a defense that will be top three in the conference. They will edge out UCLA to represent the South in the Pac-12 Title Game. Projected Record: 9-3, 6-3 in Pac-12 Biggest Strength: Defensive line Biggest Concern: Punting game

Josh Nacion's Season Projection

The range for ASU this season should be 7-10 wins. My personal prediction is nine wins with losses to Stanford, Notre Dame (although I feel this one is closer than people think) and a lapse to Oregon State. I see ASU winning the Pac-12 South, losing to Oregon/Stanford in the Pac-12 title game and getting a decent bowl like the Holiday or Alamo Bowl. This year's ASU squad definitely has the talent to succeed but the question is, do they have the mental toughness to endure through the season, especially that four game stretch? From what I've seen, I believe Todd Graham will keep this team in check. Projected Record: 9-4 Biggest Strength: Number of weapons on offense Biggest Concern: Run Defense

Eric Smith's Season Projection

The early stretch is tough but I think ASU comes out of it 3-2 dropping to Stanford and a close one to Notre Dame. The schedule eases up from there until a Nov. 16 date against Oregon State, which, at this point, I think you could almost flip a coin to decide. A big shootout win over UCLA and win in the Territorial Cup game puts the Sun Devils at 9-3 at seasons end. Projected Record: 9-3 Biggest Strength: Second year under Mike Norvell Biggest Concern: Run defense

Brad Denny's Season Projection

Expectations are nothing new for the Sun Devils, but living up to them is. ASU still needs to prove that it can defeat good teams on a consistent basis, but with their talent level, they have the ability. If Graham and staff can keep the team's mental focus on point, this season should see the Devils capture the South. Projected Record: 9-3 Biggest Strength: Front seven Biggest Concern: Can they beat a good team?

Cory Williams' Season Projection

The Sun Devils have all the pieces to make a run at the Pac-12 South division crown. Arizona State has a wealth of starting talent on both sides of the ball, though depth is a major concern. Should impact players stay healthy and perform up to expectations, there's no reason why ASU can't win nine or 10 games and compete in the Pac-12 championship game. Projected Record: 9-4 Biggest Strength: Front seven Biggest Concern: Depth on offensive line

Jaime Eisner's Season Projection

The Sun Devils have a nice stretch of winnable games toward the end of the season which should help boost their win totals after a rough schedule early on. With the new crop of receivers, I expect the duo of D.J. Foster and Marion Grice to carry the offensive load early on. Taylor Kelly should have a solid, but unspectacular season that gets stronger as the season goes on. The end result: a winning season and a trip to a bowl game. Projected Record: 7-5 Biggest Strength: Versatile backfield Biggest Concern: Wide receivers

Jess Root's Season Projection

This season is exciting. Expectations are high (once again) and the players are talking Rose Bowl. Realistically, I want 9-10 wins. Projected Record: 9-4 Biggest Strength: Running backs Biggest Concern: Secondary

Austin Controulis' Season Projection

I think that 8-4 is a good balance between being hopeful and realistic for this season. Being the pessimistic ASU sports person that I am, I could easily see the team starting 1-4 and being the same old Sun Devil football team, but I have more faith in Todd Graham then I did in Dennis Erickson. I believe the Sun Devils can pull off wins at home against Wisconsin and USC, but I can't see them beating the Bruins on the road, especially because the road has never been friendly to ASU football. It would be nice if this team could change that and maybe ASU will finish 9-3 with a chance at a Pac-12 Championship. Projected Record: 8-4 Biggest Strength: Offensive cohesion Biggest Concern: Punting

Jason Galvin's Season Projection

I think ASU goes 11-3 in one of two ways. First, ASU goes 11-1 in the regular season, with a loss at Stanford. They lose in the Pac-12 title game, and then lose in a BCS game. Second, and the more likely, is ASU loses to Stanford and one other game along the way (most likely Notre Dame, Utah or Arizona), and lose in the Pac-12 title game before winning a bowl game. Either way, I expect this team to be in every game; there will be no Oregon blow outs in 2013. Projected Record: 11-3 Biggest Strength: Coaching staff Biggest Concern: Inexperience at key positions (WR, S, CB)