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NCAA Football Arizona State Sun DevilsPac 12 Football

Rant Sports College Football Top 100: No. 36 Arizona State Sun Devils

Will Sutton Arizona State Sun Devils

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The 2012 Arizona State Sun Devils football season was the first under head coach Todd Graham, who finally landed out in the desert after bouncing around the country.

Last season started off well for the Sun Devils, but a difficult stretch of schedule in the middle of the season proved too tough for the team as they finished 8-5 overall and 5-4 in the conference.

The Sun Devils were able to end the season on a high note, defeating rival Arizona in the final game of the season then absolutely crushing Navy in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl by a score of 62-28. This gave the team good momentum heading into 2013.

Key Players: Taylor Kelly, Chris Coyle, Will Sutton, Alden Darby

Offense

Todd Graham’s spread offense proved highly effective in his first season with the Sun Devils. Quarterback Taylor Kelly won the starting job in preseason camp and never looked backed, throwing for 3,039 yards with 29 touchdowns and also running for 516 yards and a touchdown.

The offense was statistically one of the best in the Pac-12 in 2012 as well. They finished third in scoring offense, scoring 34.3 points per game on the season. They finished fourth in total offense, putting up 447.9 yards per game on the year. These are great numbers, and with a solid nucleus returning to the offensive side of the ball, the numbers should improve.

Leading rusher Marion Grice returns for the Sun Devils after having a solid year despite splitting carries with a host of running backs. Leading receiver and tight end Chris Coyle does all sorts of things for the Sun Devil offense.

Defense

In one of the more shocking turns during the NFL Draft period, defensive tackle Will Sutton decided not to go pro after being a for sure first-round draft pick. Sutton will return for his senior season to help the Sun Devil defense after being the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2012.

The defense overall was able to hold its own in a conference filled with high-powered offenses. The Sun Devils were sixth in the conference in scoring defense, allowing 27.1 points per game on the season. In total defense, they were third in the conference, allowing 369.2 yards per game.

The Sun Devils return a host of talented players from 2012 to go along with the return of Will Sutton. Linebacker Carl Bradford will lead the linebacking corps and was an honorable mention Pac-12 selection in 2012.

In the secondary, Alden Darby returns of a second team All-Pac 12 selection in 2012 and is one of the best safeties in the conference. Corner Osahon Irabor also had a great year in 2012 and will be even better this year.

Schedule/Outlook

While the Sun Devils have many great returning players with tons of experience on their side of the ball, the one thing that you can always count on is a tough Pac-12 schedule. And theirs is no exception.

They will play two tough non-conference games at home against Wisconsin and Notre Dame, which will really give an early indication of how the season will go for Arizona State.

The Sun Devils have to travel to Stanford, which will be the hardest game on their schedule. They are also on the road at Washington State, Utah, and UCLA, but they only have four away games, which will help.

They close out the season with rival Arizona at home as well, so while they have to play many difficult teams on the year, they can face a majority of them at home.

The Sun Devils could surprise the country this year if they can come out of the month of September 2-2, but if they go winless with their tough September it could be a long season at Arizona State.

Erik Sargent is a college football writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Erik_Sargent, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.