Arizona State has faced even more pressure to win this year than USC. While the Trojans expect to compete for championships every year, ASU doesn’t align all the stars on an annual basis. The Sun Devils must seize opportunities when they arise. 2021 was considered their big chance to strike.
They’ve already missed it.
A nightmare of 17 penalties and four turnovers of a performance – a typically unruly (or rather, not so special – it’s a numbing routine in Tempe) Herm Edwards special – created a loss for BYU that immediately lowers the cap for the Devils this year. It’s hard to see such a poorly trained team rise from the ashes and win nine or more games.
Yes, Arizona State isn’t the only one among the Pac-12 South teams with huge flaws, but the point is, ASU looks like a 7-5 type of team right now. He will have to improve considerably to go 9-3. Anything less than this is a brutal disappointment for Herm Edwards. The recruiting scandal surrounding him at ASU means he needs all the leverage he can get to survive and train this team in 2022. He has taken a big step towards termination with this loss Saturday night in Provo, Utah.
Arizona State will most likely join USC as a Pac-12 South school in search of a new coach for next season.
Utah looks like a program that ran out of steam under Kyle Whittingham. The Utes are physically battered on the line of scrimmage. They scored two late touchdowns to send San Diego State into overtime, but in large part because they committed a rushed offense. In normal game flow and normally planned games, they were dominated up front by the Aztecs. Losing two games in a row shows that Utah is not at all close to the team I thought they were going to be (my preseason pick as the Southern Champion). Whittingham is aging and rumors of impending retirement have crossed Twitter and some podcasts last week. It sounds like a program that needs a fresh start.
The revival of Chip Kelly at UCLA? It’s obviously a mirage, or at the very least, it’s not as substantial as previously thought. LSU’s victory looks a lot less convincing, and it will become even less noticeable if LSU continues to struggle. UCLA’s defense obviously did not solve its problems. Jake Heaner – former Pac-12 quarterback in Washington – cut out the Bruins for Fresno State in a dazzling performance. UCLA once again lost a game in which it scored 37 or more points. The Bruins lost a lot of those games last year.
Colorado hasn’t scored in seven quarters. Arizona lost to Northern Arizona at home and could go 0-12 this year.
The South Pac-12 is weak. USC, with a good (not even great – just good!) Hiring of coaches and a fundamentally competent leader in place, is poised to rule the South on a relentless year-over-year basis, especially given the recruiting that Donte Williams did to replenish the supply of talent. USC would only have to worry about one program – Oregon – if it hires the right coach.
The future of the program has become much brighter over the weekend, as none of its Pac-12 South rivals are quite ready to take over. It’s still a world in which the Trojan Men can rule… if Mike Bohn does his job well in the next few months.