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ASU Football Opponent Primer: Arizona Wildcats

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Territorial Cup, need we say more?

Nicole Hernandez/House of Sparky

Arizona State 2018 Schedule

UTSA (Sept. 1) - Read

Michigan State (Sept. 8) - Read

At San Diego State (Sept. 15) - Read

At Washington (Sept. 22) - Read

Oregon State (Sept. 29) - Read

At Colorado (Oct. 6) - Read

Stanford (Oct. 18) - Read

At USC (Oct. 27) - Read

Utah (Nov. 3) - Read

UCLA (Nov. 10) - Read

At Oregon (Nov. 17) - Read

At Arizona (Nov. 24)

Arizona’s 2017 Season:

The Wildcat’s finished 2017 with a dull record of 7-6 in a Pac-12 South conference that was not impressive. The emergence of quarterback Khalil Tate instilled hope in Wildcat fans for not only 2017, but to the future. Tate amounted 1591 passing yards and also finished as the team’s leading rusher, scampering for 1411 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. Though Tate had a glamorous year, complete with being on the August cover of Sports Illustrated, his team lost to Purdue in the Foster Farms Bowl. Much like Arizona State, the Wildcats also fired their head coach and brought in Kevin Sumlin.

Key Returners/Additions

Khalil Tate without question is the biggest topic of this team. He sits on many’s radar as a Heisman trophy candidate and can prove to be one of the best athletes on the field. His dual threat abilities to not only launch long passes, but also dash for an average of 9.2 yards per rush makes him a key component for the Wildcats. In Layman’s terms, he’s kind of good.

An addition that is going to be looked at heavily is first-year head coach Kevin Sumlin. After going 51-26 over six seasons at Texas A&M, Sumlin is starting fresh with a new school and a new conference. His player production with the Aggies made him one of the most recognized names in the SEC as he sputtered out 21 draft picks. He coached Myles Garrett, Johnny Manziel, Mike Evans, and Christian Kirk just to name a few of the many talented players. If you want player production, Sumlin is the guy to have at the helm.

Key Departures

Arizona had only one player drafted with Dane Cruikshank going to the Tennessee Titans in the fifth round. The team is still fairly young and has many key returners, especially at wide receiver. Both Shun Brown and Tony Ellison had close to 600 receiving yards and both are returning for 2018.

Reasons why ASU Could Win

Same strategy as last year’s Territorial Cup, defend the ground game. Tate will obviously be looking to deliver on the ground game again this season and Arizona State held him to only 28 rushing-yards. Granted, Tate exited the game due to a shoulder injury. If the Sun Devil defense stays consistent to hold the Wildcats down on the rush, the offense can answer with the collection of passing weapons.

Reasons why ASU Could Lose

It’s Arizona. Wild things happen in rivalry games and the Territorial Cup is no exception. The disadvantage for ASU is that the game is in Tucson and there is a lot of hype around the offense that Tate will be commanding. The game is not until late November, but this rivalry game will have the cliche theme as always, “anything can happen.”