The Colorado Buffaloes (2-1, Pac-12) face an opportunity to pick up their first-ever road win over the No. 24 Arizona State Sun Devils (3-0, Pac-12) on Saturday night.
Both teams are coming off unlikely events prior to meeting each other for the Pac-12 opener. Arizona State took a 10-7 victory over No. 18 Michigan State on what the Pac-12 Conference later called an “officiating error” during the last play of the game, which turned a made Spartans field goal into a miss. On the other hand, Colorado felt a hangover of sorts after a win over No. 25 Nebraska and suffered a 30-23 overtime lost to Air Force, although the Falcons could prove to be a better team than the Huskers.
There are lot of positives for ASU a month into Herm Edwards’ second year as head coach. The Sun Devils are ranked for a game at home for the first time Nov. 22, 2014, when the 13th-ranked ASU defeated Washington State, 52-31. With the win over Michigan State, it marks the third time the Sun Devils are undefeated at 3-0 since 2008. However, the last season ASU started 4-0 was 2016, a year in which Colorado blew them out behind Phillip Lindsay’s superb game.
Colorado has won two of the last three contests against Arizona State despite picking up their first series win in 2016. It took the Buffs ten years to defeat the Sun Devils, but nonetheless a road win in Tempe has always escaped CU. Last year’s 28-21 victory in Boulder was lead by Laviska Shenault Jr.’s four-touchdown performance and gave Colorado a 5-0 record before losing their remaining seven games, ending what appeared to be a promising season without a bowl bid.
Arizona State has a new look on offense with Jayden Daniels starting the season under center. The true freshman dual-threat quarterback from San Bernardino, Calif. has completed 47-of-77 passes (61.0%) for 728 yards and three touchdowns through the first three games. Daniels was also named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week for guiding ASU over Michigan State, even though he accounted for no touchdowns in the game. Another feat for Daniels is that he could become the fourth Sun Devil quarterback since 1970 to start 4-0. Arizona State’s offense as a whole is ranked 111th in FBS for scoring, averaging 19.7 points per game.
Daniels’ efforts have been held up on the other end by ASU’s defense, a group currently leading the Pac-12 and second in the nation for points allowed with an average of 7.0 per game. A total of ten returning players (8 starters) from last year is a main factor to ASU’s success on defense including the stout secondary of cornerbacks Kobe Williams and Chase Lucas, along with safety Aashari Crosswell. The Sun Devils have held opponents scoreless in the first three quarters in each game this season.
The Buffs are quite different on offense as they have moved the ball well, particularly late as the majority of their points come in the second half (72 points, 66.0% of CU’s total). Steven Montez comes into the match-up with Arizona State having thrown for 827 yards, 6 touchdowns and two interceptions against opponents with an average total defense ranked 58th in the nation. Arizona State is currently ranked 48th in total defense, allowing 303 yards per game and a staggering 91.7 yard average to opponents on the ground.
Colorado’s defense got picked apart in the first three weeks, surrendering an average of 473 yards per game, along with 30.7 point per game. Trying to contain Daniels might be a tough task for the Buffs, even with experience against dual-threat Adrian Martinez and triple option extraordinaire Donald Hammond III.
News and Notes:
From the desk of Dave Plati:
“Fourth Quarter Buffaloes. Colorado has outscored the opponent 51-24 in the fourth quarter this season, and owns a 507-330 edge in yards (393- 181 the last two games). That’s already more points than the Buffs scored in the fourth period in all of 2018 (39), and almost half the yardage (1,037).
Looking back at the last six games of 2018 (all losses), CU was outscored 67-3 in the final stanza and outgained by 598-460. The school record for the most points in a fourth quarter in 130 in 2018, though CU has scored 100 or more in the quarter 11 times (just three times in 12-game seasons; once again, CU does not include bowl stats in its season records).”
Did you know?
Arizona State’s mascot “Sparky” was created by Walt Disney’s graphic artist Bert Anthony and is rumored to be a depiction of Disney himself. Anthony, who created Stanford’s former “Indian” logo, was called upon by university officials to create a new image for the school and thus the devilish creature was born.
Colorado head to Tempe for the first road game of the 2019 season with No. 24 Arizona State. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. MT at Sun Devil Stadium (55,000). CU is 3-5 in Pac-12 conference openers (2-1 on the road), averaging 37 points in its three wins and 20.4 in the five losses.
TV: Pac-12 Networks (National; except DirecTV)
Radio: 850 KOA (Regional)
Weather Forecast: 74° clear at kickoff
Odds: -8 Arizona State