Arizona State surprised a lot of people in 2012. There was a lot of ill will toward new head coach Todd Graham for how he handled his exit from Pitt, and that probably bled into people's perception of the Sun Devils as a team. They went out and won eight games, though, and come into 2013 with the goal of winning the Pac-12 South and getting to the Pac-12 Championship Game. They have some stumbling blocks along the way, though, so lets take a look at their schedule to see where things get tough.
2013 Arizona State schedule
Projections from Football Outsiders' 2013 college football almanac.
The Sun Devils have been mentioned as potential Pac-12 South champions after their surprising 2012 season, but they won't be taking anyone by surprise this year. They'll need to get off to a fast start, too, because after a warmup game against Sacramento State, they enter a comically difficult four game stretch against Wisconsin, at Stanford, USC, and Notre Dame in Cowboy Stadium. A 2-2 split in those games would be a great result for the Sun Devils, especially if they can beat either Stanford or USC.
After that, things calm down a bit during the middle of the season. They should pick up wins against Colorado and Washington State, and should have a good chance to beat Washington, as well. The final month of the season will be tougher, though, as they face four straight toss-up games against Utah, Oregon State, UCLA and Arizona. It's tough but manageable, and at least they don't have to deal with Oregon.
It's easy to see a path to eight wins for the Sun Devils in 2013, but that may not be enough to get them into the Pac-12 Championship Game. They can help themselves out with wins over USC and/or UCLA, but they probably won't be able to really distance themselves from the rest of the division. However they get there, though, making it to the conference title game is the goal.