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The Battle of Interims: Colorado vs. Arizona State Week 9 Preview

Two teams hoping for a brighter future.

California v Colorado Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

A lot to work on with little to work with. That’s the story of Colorado’s football season with five games left on the schedule. To say the Buffs (1-6, 1-3 Pac-12) are in the midst of a rebuild is an understatement.

The same can be said about the Arizona State Sun Devils (2-5, 1-3 Pac-12). Colorado and Arizona State each made coaching changes within the first five weeks of the 2022 season. Karl Dorrell was dismissed for a lack of victories following a record day for Arizona. While Herm Edwards was met in the end zone by ASU officials after a 30-21 loss to Eastern Michigan. They were much different circumstances given Edwards’ ties to an NCAA investigation into Arizona State, but it was the same result for both nonetheless.

This battle of interim coaches sees the first-ever meeting between Mike Sanford and Shaun Aguano. The Buffs are 1-1 with the former Minnesota OC at the helm which is nearly identical to the 1-2 record posted during Aguano’s short tenure in Tempe. Sanford has more college coaching experience in this match up with 15 years compared to Aguano’s four years as an assistant overseeing the running backs before his temporary promotion. He did, however, spend 18 years coaching in high school and won four state titles prior to his time at ASU.

The Sun Devils hit a stretch of three straight games against Top 25 opponents in the post-Edwards era with a win over then 21st-ranked Washington. It was a momentum boost snapping a four-game losing streak followed by a one-point loss at Stanford, prompting Aguano to take over offensive play-calling duties from Glenn Thomas this past week. The ASU offense has averaged 24.5 points per game over the last four games. The loss to the Cardinal was ASU’s first without giving up a touchdown since 1984.

Yes, the Devils’ defense have held up their end of the bargain lately, but they’re not a top-notch unit that has the ability to take over games. ASU has given up over 400 yards per contest and are better against the run with an average of 154.1 yards on the ground. If this was a matchup with a decent offense, Arizona State might be in jeopardy of losing a sixth game this season.

However, CU has struggled badly this season. The ten-game span going back to last year with the Buffs failing to break the 20-point plateau on offense has been a doozy. Not much of anything to counter the offensive lows on defense either. Colorado is the only FBS team in the bottom ten for average yards allowed (473.3) and points per game (38.7); along with points scored (13.7) and average yards gained (286.1).

Arizona State’s offense is slight better behind Xazavian Valladay, who has a touchdown in all but one game this season. The Wyoming transfer entered his final season of eligibility as the Pokes’ second all-time leading rusher with 3,281 yards and 21 touchdowns. Valladay is currently third in the Pac-12 with 744 yards from scrimmage and nine total touchdowns.

From the desk of Dave Plati:

“Obscure stat of the week- 150. That will be the number game that assistant coach Darian Hagan will coach in this Saturday for the Buffaloes; fifth-most all-time. Hagan has been associated with CU since signing a letter-of-intent in February 1988; he would earn the starting job at quarterback his sophomore year and would guide the Buffs to a 28-5-2 record in 35 starts (best ever at CU). After a brief professional career, he would return to CU in various capacities until Gary Barnett named him wide receivers coach in 2005; Dan Hawkins retained him in 2006 and put him in charge of the running backs. Hagan is in his 13th season overall as an assistant at CU, tied for the sixth-most seasons (with his college coach, Bill McCartney).”

Game info

Colorado returns home to face Arizona State. Kickoff for Homecoming is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. MT from Folsom Field on Saturday, Oct. 29. ASU beat CU by a score of 35-13 to open Pac-12 play last season.


Radio: 850 KOA (Mark Johnson and Gary Barnett)

Weather forecast: 58°

Odds: -14, Arizona State