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Sun Devils' 2014 Schedule Presents Challenges

by William Boor
Jan 23, 2014 10:59 AM EST



A season ago, Arizona State navigated one of the toughest schedules in the country en route to a Pac-12 South championship and a berth in the conference championship game.

While the 2014 schedule is easier on paper, it does present some challenges of its own.

2014 ASU Football Schedule

Aug. 28: Weber State (Thursday)
Sept. 6: at New Mexico
Sept. 13: at Colorado
Sept. 20: Bye
Sept. 25: UCLA (Thursday)
Oct. 4: at USC
Oct. 11: Bye
Oct. 18: Stanford
Oct. 25: at Washington
Nov. 1: Utah (Homecoming)
Nov. 8: Notre Dame
Nov. 15: at Oregon State
Nov. 22: Washington State (Senior Day)
Nov. 28: at Arizona (Friday)
Dec. 5: Pac-12 Championship (Friday/FOX Sports)

In back-to-back seasons the winner of the ASU-UCLA game has won the Pac-12 South. This is becoming a great rivalry within the division and in 2014 fans won't have to wait long for the matchup as the Bruins travel to Tempe, Ariz., on Sept. 25 for a Thursday night showdown.

The location and day of the week are working in ASU's favor. The Sun Devils have won their last eight home games (excluding the Pac-12 championship played at Sun Devil Stadium). The Thursday night stage may help the Sun Devils because it means they have an extra week to get ready for one of the biggest tests of their season. However, UCLA also has a bye on Sept. 20.

The date of the game may be a disadvantage for Arizona State, which will have nine new defensive starters in 2014. The bulk of those players will lack significant game experience heading into the contest against UCLA. With a talented dual-threat quarterback like Brett Hundley lining up on the other side of the ball, that lack of experience could pose multiple problems.

Just a week after facing UCLA, the Sun Devils travel to Los Angeles to take on USC. Although ASU embarrassed the Trojans a season ago, USC is a different team without Lane Kiffin. The Trojans will pose a test to an ASU team that is either riding high after a big win over UCLA or looking to get back on track in the South.

After facing UCLA and USC, ASU has another big test as Stanford comes to town. Just like the game against UCLA, ASU will have a bye week to prepare for Stanford.

However, it is Stanford. The Sun Devils played two games against the Cardinal a season ago — one in Palo Alto, Calif. and one in Tempe — and the Cardinal got the better of the Sun Devils both times. ASU will look to solve its “Stanford problem,” but this game will be tough.

On Nov. 8, ASU will have another chance to avenge a loss from a season ago as Notre Dame comes to town. The Sun Devils likely will be favored in this game, but any game against Notre Dame is a big one because of the attention that comes with it. There will be a lot of eyes tuned to this game — as there is any time Notre Dame plays — so it will provide ASU with a chance to make a national statement.

The 2014 college football season can't come soon enough. Although the Sun Devils do not have the daunting schedule they had a season ago, it is already clear that the upcoming season won't be a cakewalk.