Despite the best of intentions, our prediction of an Arizona State win against Notre Dame fell flat last weekend. Not surprisingly, several Fighting Irish fans were “helpful” enough to point out our mistaken prognosticating in the comments section of our article.
This week, we’re putting our reputation on the line once again by predicting an ASU victory. It’s not like we’re sure to pick the Sun Devils as victors in every game; it’s just extremely likely that they’ll come out on top in this contest.
We can already hear the Colorado faithful snorting in anger at our previous statement. How, they will ask, can you be so certain ASU will defeat an improving Buffalo squad, led by popular first-year head coach Mike MacIntyre?
It’s really quite simple:
Reason #1: Buffs QB Connor Wood hasn’t passed muster against Pac-12 opponents
A solid prospect at the quarterback position, Wood entered 2013 intent on having a breakout season. Through the first two games (Colorado State and Central Arkansas), the junior signal-caller completed 68.3 percent of his passes (56 of 82) for 741 yards and six touchdowns. He was among the top ten quarterbacks in the country in yards per game.
But despite his early success this year, Wood has not been able to put Colorado in the W column against Pac-12 opposition. Last Saturday, for example, he completed just 11 of 33 passes for 205 yards and two interceptions in a 57-16 loss to Oregon at Folsom Field.
Wood’s rough outing against the Ducks followed a 44-17 loss to Oregon State on Sept. 28, when he completed just 14 of 34 passes for 146 yards, two interceptions and two touchdowns.
Both conference foes took their foot off the gas after piling up a big lead on the Buffs.
Reason #2: Colorado won’t move the ball against a riled up Sun Devil defense
At this point, don’t be surprised if Will Sutton and Co. have a major chip on their shoulders. The Sun Devil defense has been roundly criticized for its inability to stop opposing running backs—as well as its propensity for giving up big plays. Nationally, ASU is No. 86 in rush defense, No. 84 in scoring defense and No. 60 in total defense.
Colorado will be a different story.
Last year’s feature back for the Buffaloes, sophomore Christian Powell, has been nursing injuries during the early part of the season, and thus hasn’t been a major factor. As a result, true freshman Michael Adkins has been forced into extended duty. Although he looks like a keeper, Adkins is still relatively green at the RB position.
Oh, and did we mention that All-American DT Jaxon Hood is expected to return from an injury to play for the Sun Devils on Saturday?
Reason #3: Arizona State is a different team at Sun Devil Stadium.
Although its poor road record speaks for itself, Arizona State has proven to be a formidable team when playing at home in front of its frenzied fans. Last year, head coach Todd Graham’s unit posted a 4-2 record at Sun Devil Stadium, and so far this season it is undefeated on its own turf.
Look for Graham to use the Colorado game to reinforce fundamentals, eliminate miscues and fine-tune his running game. The Sun Devils will be anxious to show that the mistake-prone team the nation saw in Texas was an aberration.
We expect plenty of fireworks from the guys in maroon and gold.