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ASU Football Opponent Primer: Cal Poly Mustangs

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The Sun Devils open their home slate against Cal Poly on September 12.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Over the next five weeks we will begin to take a look at ASU's 2015 opponents. We will be going in order of the 2015 schedule, with two opponents per week beginning this week. Last week we previewed the Texas A&M Aggies, up next are the Cal Poly Mustangs.

Schedule:

July 8 - Texas A&M - Read

July 13 - Cal Poly

July 15 - New Mexico

July 20 - USC

July 22 - UCLA

July 27 - Colorado

July 29 - Utah

August 3 - Oregon

August 5 - Washington State

August 10 - Washington

August 12 - Arizona

August 17 - Cal

2014 Season

The Cal Poly Mustangs are a member of the Big Sky Conference (same league as NAU plays in). They traditionally play one FBS school a season, in 2014 it was New Mexico State. They fell 28-10 to the Aggies in Las Cruses and followed that up with a 44-18 defeat at the hands of South Dakota State.

Cal Poly picked up their first victory of the season on Sept. 20 with a 42-14 victory over Portland State, however the fell to NAU 38-35 in Flagstaff the next week.

Following the defeat to the Lumberjacks, the Mustangs won their next five games in 2014, including victories over FCS powers Montana and Montana State.

Cal Poly lost two of its final three games and did not qualify for the FCS playoffs.

Key Losses

RB/WR Chris Nicholls - The 5-foot-8, 170-pound Nicholls rushed for 461 yards and and caught 29 passes over the past two seasons for Cal Poly. He was also an Honorable Mention All-Big Sky performer who returned kickoffs.

LB Nick Dzubnar - Constantly around the football, Dzubnar tallied a school-record 167 total tackles in 2014, earning him First Team All-Big Sky honors.

DB Jordan Williams - Williams finished 2014 with 44 tackles and three interceptions and earned Honorable Mention All-Big Sk honors.

Key Returners

QB Chris Brown - The Mustangs tallied at least 450 yards of offense in each of their last 10 games of 2014 and Brown was a major reason why. He is the prototype duel-threat quarterback, passing for 1,465 yards and 17 touchdowns and rushing for 1,265 and 17 scores in 2014.

RB Kori Garcia - Garcia broke out as a sophomore in 2014, rushing for 1,039 yards on just 157 carries. He also caught 17 passes on his way to being named to the All-Big Sky Second Team.

Offensive Line - The big men up front figure to be a strength for the Mustangs in 2015. Cal Poly returns five linemen who started at least 10 games in 2014. Stephen Sippell, Nick Enriquez and Miles Williams started all 12 games in 2014, Weston Walker started in 11 games and Billy Shipman started 10 games at guard.

Reason for Optimism

The Sun Devils don't take these kind of games lightly under Todd Graham. In three games, ASU has outscored FCS opponents 163-20 since Graham was hired. There is an interesting wrinkle this year, as the yearly game against an FCS opponent comes in the second game of the season instead of the traditional season opener. Nevertheless, don't expect ASU to struggle against an FCS opponent with a game already played on the schedule.

Reason for Pessimism

Well, the ASU bus may break down. All kidding aside, there is not much reason for pessimism when the Sun Devils open their home slate against Cal Poly. The Mustangs return 16 starters from 2014, including nine on offense. However, the Sun Devils will bring back nine defensive starters as well as firepower on offense.