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The Lost Season: ASU football's chaotic 2020 campaign

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Posted at 5:50 PM, Mar 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-02 21:43:21-05

The ASU football team is getting ready to start spring practices later this week with their eyes on the 2021 season, where they could be a force in the Pac-12.

Over the next three days, we'll look back at their 2020 campaign, which was as tumultuous as they come.

"We got shut down in March, and then from there was a roller coaster to try to play," said Sun Devils head coach Herm Edwards.

As the Fall approached, the SEC, ACC and Big 12 had forged a path ahead for a college football season. The Pac-12 was the last to come around, a 7-games-in-7-weeks schedule, starting in November.

"It was hard, it was stressful," said freshman running back Chip Trayanum. "Just because it was like those other conferences found a way to play outside of COVID, and it seemed like the Pac-12 really wasn't trying hard enough."

"When we had our discussions, you knew that it was going to be driven by the medical professionals, and they were going to give us a game plan. And I was good with it. I understood it," Edwards said. "I think every coach that was in our conference understood that the one thing you could tell about our conference, there was one voice. 'We're going to stick together as a conference, we're going to start the same time."

For fans, however, it was more difficult to come to terms with the football season being turned upside down.

"This was the year, I know everybody talks about it, I mean you've got to put up or shut up, but this was a year," said ASU alumni and long-time season ticket holder Jeff Barnes. "You look at schedule, where we're at with the roster. I thought we were really going to make some hay and possibly, probably, I thought we're going to win the Pac-12 South."

We've certainly heard that uttered from Valley sports fans before, but in a wide-open conference, with a condensed schedule, and a sizeable lead against the toughest team they'd face with less than three minutes remaining, all was right for the Sun Devils, until it wasn't.

"It literally felt like a movie," said Trayanum of the Trojans comeback. "It was crazy."

USC scored two touchdowns, recovering an onside kick in between, to steal the game away from ASU.

"It was a terrible feeling," recalled senior cornerback Chase Lucas. "Probably one of the most memorable losses I'm going to have as a Sun Devil."

"We all feel like we should have won that game if we finish the right way and do some certain things on all sides of the ball," said offensive coordinator Zak Hill. "Then from that now, we get into COVID. Shoot, we had a bunch of players and a bunch of coaches that got it due to the travel."

And just like that, the season unraveled at the seams.

"Half of the team got hit with COVID like in the first half of the week. And then the second half of the week, another half of the team did," said Trayanum. "It was definitely weird and stressful because it was like, for a second, man, are we ever even going to play again?"

So began the biggest disruption in college football at the time. It would be another month before ASU returned to the field for a game.

Catch part 2 of 3 of this series Tuesday night.