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ASU Football Opponent Primer: Arizona Wildcats

Sun Devils’ in-state rival in a rut as well.

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona State 2017 Schedule

New Mexico State (Aug. 31) — Read

San Diego State (Sept. 9) — Read

At Texas Tech (Sept. 16) — Read

Oregon (Sept. 23) — Read

At Stanford (Sept. 30) — Read

Washington (Oct. 14) — Read

At Utah (Oct. 21) — Read

USC (Oct. 28) — Read

Colorado (Nov. 4) — Read

At UCLA (Nov. 11) — Read

At Oregon State (Nov. 18)—Read

Arizona (Nov. 25)

Arizona’s 2016 season

The Wildcats’ season last year was one that most U of A fans would want to forget. The team finished with a 3-9 overall record with a 1-8 record in conference play. Now, most Wildcat fans would tell you that the record did not matter in the end because of their 56-35 domination of the Arizona State Sun Devils to end last season.

In that game the Wildcats rushed for over 500 yards.

U of A also took powerhouse Washington to overtime early on in conference play but ended up losing that contest 35-28.

Head coach Rich Rodriguez is in the hot seat this season, as fans prepare for another rough go of it.

Key Returners

Quarterback Brandon Dawkins

Dawkins was the Wildcats’ leading passer and rusher last season. He accumulated over 2000 total yards of offense on the season and Arizona will welcome him back with open arms. His 944 net rushing yards were certainly eye popping, while throwing in 10 rushing touchdowns as well.

Safety Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles

Arizona may be losing its leading tackler, but this junior safety will be making his return to the Wildcat defense in 2017. As a sophomore, he racked up 78 total tackles, including 59 unassisted tackles, which was good for the most on the team.

Running Back Nick Wilson

Wilson is the most likely starter at running back this season. He registered two 100-yard games to start in the 2016 season, but was plagued by injuries after that.

Biggest Losses

Wide Receiver Samajie Grant

Losing your leading rusher, that’s not a quarterback, is never a fun task to handle. Last season Grant rushed for 508 yards on 74 attempts. That is an average of 6.2 yards per attempt. He also added on 247 yards of receiving. He finished the season with nine total touchdowns.

Wide Receiver Nate Phillips

While losing their leading rusher, the Wildcats will also be losing their second-leading receiver. Phillips might not have posted great numbers (33 receptions for 414 yards) but he was another target that redshirt junior QB Brandon Dawkins will have to replace in this upcoming season.

Linebacker Paul Magloire Jr.

As a redshirt senior last year, Magloire led the team in total tackles with 81. While the Wildcat defense was not known for being particularly good, Magloire was a key cog in that defense.

Reasons for optimism

The Sun Devils will be playing this game at home this year. And while both teams are projected to struggle this season, the home field advantage could play a big factor in who gets the win.

The ASU offense also has quite a few playmakers as well, which could prove problematic to an underwhelming Arizona defense.

Reasons for pessimism

511 yards.

Many ASU fans went into the game against their rivals from down south fully expecting to come out of Tucson with a win.

When the Wildcats ran all over the field en route to a blowout, it showed fans that anything can happen in a rivalry game. Even running for 511 yards in a game without attempting a pass in the second half can happen. It seems the Sun Devils biggest problems will be on defense once again, so the Wildcats could exploit that.