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 next week. Up first in our series is the Texas A&M Aggies, who the Sun Devils open the season with.
2014 Season - 8-5, 3-5 SEC (W in Liberty Bowl)
The 2014 Aggies set the college football world on fire the first week of the 2014 season with a 52-28 throttling of South Carolina, ending some speculation that the Aggies would take a step back after the departure of Johnny Manziel (or so they thought).
Texas A&M started the season 5-0 with victories over Lamar (73-3), Rice (38-10), SMU (58-6) and Arkansas (35-28). However, the wheels fell off quickly as they entered the meat of their schedule. They dropped their next three to SEC games, including a 59-0 drubbing at Alabama on October 18.
Following back-to-back wins over UL Monroe and Auburn, the Aggies dropped their final two regular season games to Missouri and LSU to finish a pedestrian 7-5. A 45-37 victory over West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl gave Texas A&M their eighth victory of the season.
WR Malcome Kennedy - Kennedy led Texas A&M with 53 catches in 2014, racking up 611 yards and six touchdowns.
RB Trey Williams - Despite being just 5-foo-7 and 195 pounds, Williams carried the ball 81 times for 560 yards in 2014. Williams was second on the team in rushes, yards and led the team with seven rushing touchdowns.
K Josh Lambo - Lambo converted 13 of 15 field goals in 2014 with a long of 50 yards. Lambo was perfect inside of 40 yards and 1-1 from 50+.
OT Cedric Ogbuehl - Another standout LT that Texas A&M as produced. Obuechl had a bit of a down year in 2014 moving to the left side but was still drafted No. 21 overall by the Bengals this past May.
QB Kyle Allen - Allen was thrust into the starting role in November and the highly touted quarterback from Scottsdale, Ariz., did not disappoint as a true freshman. Allen completed 61.5 percent of his passes for 1,322 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He threw four touchdown passes in victories over Auburn and West Virginia and three in a loss to Missouri.
WR Speedy Noil - Another former 5-star recruit that had a great true freshman season in 2014. Noil caught 46 passes in 2014 for 583 yards and five touchdowns. Noil is used in a multitude of ways, but he is especially dangerous in the open field and on screen passes.
WR Josh Reynolds - Another pass catcher returning for the Aggies, Reynolds actually led Texas A&M in receiving yards (842) and set a school record with 13 touchdown receptions.
DE Myles Garrett - Yet another super sophomore for Kevin Sumlin, Garrett may have been the best defensive lineman in the SEC last year and is already drawing comparisons to Jadeveon Clowney. Garrett as a freshman in 2014 posted 14 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks, look for his name to be called early in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Reason for Optimism
Despite all of their flash and speed on offense, the Aggies finished just 7-5 in the regular season in 2014. On defense, they struggled to stop teams, they finished 102nd in the nation in total defense and 75th in scoring defense. The unit returns just six starters and is very young (albeit talented).
The Sun Devils will be bringing one of the most explosive offenses in the nation to Houston and should be able to score points on a very average Texas A&M defense.
Reason for Pessimism
If you look at recruiting rankings, Texas A&M has one of the most talented rosters in the nation. The sophomore class of Allen, Noil, Garrett and Ricky Seals-Jones provide A&M with a bright future. The Aggies (like ASU), boast one of the most prolific offenses in the nation, leading the SEC in passing offense in 2014 despite having young receivers and playing two quarterbacks.
Another reason for pessimism is this is essentially a road game for ASU. The Sun Devil faithful will travel well, but it is a much closer distance to travel for Aggie fans. Don't be surprised if the stadium looks 70-30 or even 80-20 in terms of Texas A&M to ASU fan ratio.