Entering Pac-12 play and the most difficult stretch of their schedule, the No. 16 Arizona State Sun Devils welcome the Colorado Buffaloes to Folsom Field on Saturday. Head coach Todd Graham and the Sun Devils own a perfect 5-0 all-time record against Colorado, but might struggle focusing on this week’s game with UCLA, USC and Stanford next up on their schedule.
With dual-threat senior quarterback Taylor Kelly at the helm, Arizona State has already ripped off two wins over Weber State and New Mexico, posting 103 points, 1,191 total yards and 14 touchdowns. Kelly is on-pace for his best season, with 430 yards passing and three touchdowns, along with 98 rushing yards and another score.
Following Marion Grice's departure to the NFL, Kelly is once again complemented by a talented running back in junior D.J. Foster, who’s racked up 363 rushing yards and four touchdowns at 10.7 yards per carry, and figures to surpass his career high of 501 yards in the next two games.
Kelly and Foster are the main reasons why Arizona State owns the ninth highest-scoring offense in the country, but Colorado gained some confidence following its 11-point comeback victory on the road against UMass last week.
Nearly midway through the third quarter, Buffaloes quarterback Sefo Liufau led the first of three consecutive touchdown drives. Liufu and receiver Nelson Spruce connected for a 70-yard touchdown bomb and a 3-yard score, sandwiching junior running back Christian Powell’s 14-yard scamper.
Receiver Shay Fields also contributed six receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown in the second quarter, and he along with Spruce could challenge the Sun Devils secondary. Arizona State will turn to senior safety Damarious Randall, who totaled three interceptions and returned one for a touchdown last season, and though he hasn’t forced any turnovers yet he leads the team with 16 total tackles and three tackles for a loss.
However most of the pressure will be on Colorado’s defense. The Buffaloes are allowing 200.5 passing yards per game so far, and opened the season by giving up 266 rushing yards to Colorado State in a 31-17 loss. Colorado will need big performances from top cornerbacks Greg Henderson and Ken Crawley, along with sophomore safety Tedric Thompson, to contain Kelly.
Linebackers Addison Gillam and Kenneth Olugbode can hopefully clog the middle to prevent Foster from breaking away, and senior defensive tackle Juda Parker looks to anchor a frontline and pass rush that’s generated only three sacks.
Start Time: 10 p.m. EST
TV Channel: ESPNU
Betting Odds: Arizona State -15
Over/Under: 69 points
Prediction: Arizona State 42, Colorado 30