Friday Fast Facts – Colorado v. No. 24 Arizona State


Getting to Know … Arizona State

Ask a Pac-12 fan which school in the Southern division has the best record in conference games since 2012, and you might get a “UCLA”, a “USC”, or even a “Utah”.

Thing is, the correct answer is “Arizona State”.

Since the arrival of Todd Graham, the Sun Devils have gone 25-14 in conference games, better than any other Pac-12 school (I could list CU’s record over that span, but you really don’t want me to).

With a win over the Buffs, Arizona State would be 6-1 through seven games for the second time in three years, and 3-1 in Pac-12 games four the fourth time in Todd Graham’s five seasons.

Still, the Colorado 2016 football team is determined to ignore the past, and start some new trends in the Pac-12 South. The Buffs, though they have never beaten the Sun Devils – and have never been closer than 14 points in any of their previous seven attempts – are 13-point favorites this Saturday (6:00 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks).

Something has got to give …


Arizona State players to watch:

Manny Wilkins, QB / Dillon Sterling-Cole, QB … When Arizona State takes the ball for the first time Saturday night, here are the important numbers … 5 and 15. If No. 5 is behind center, that means that the starting quarterback for the first four games, Manny Wilkins, is back in action. If No. 15 is taking the snaps, the starter is a true freshman, Dillon Sterling-Cole, making his first career start.

Wilkins suffered a high ankle sprain against USC two weeks ago, and was held out of the 23-20 win over UCLA last weekend. His backup, Brady White, was lost for the season late in the UCLA game, forcing ASU to take the red-shirt off of Sterling-Cole.

Graham has been playing coy with the status of Wilkins, stating that he “anticipates” Wilkins will play on Saturday. If he does, Wilkins, who has over 250 yards and four touchdowns rushing, will not be the dual-threat quarterback who opened his career with a 4-0 record this season.

Demario Richard, RB / Kalen Ballage, RB … Ballage, a product of Peyton, Colorado, was a four-star who got away, choosing ASU over Colorado on Signing Day, 2014. In his first game back in his home state, Ballage would surely like to make an impression, and his stats: 61 carries for 310 yards (5.1 ypc.) and nine rushing touchdowns are impressive. Still, Ballage had 137 of those yards, and seven of those touchdowns, in the 68-55 score-a-thon against Texas Tech. In three Pac-12 games, Ballage has 24 carries for 53 yards and no scores.

Richard, meanwhile, has been more consistent so far this fall, with 436 yards and two touchdowns on the season. Ballage will get his carries (with some, no doubt, coming from direct snaps in the “Wildcat” formation), but Richard is the featured tailback.

Zane Gonzalez, K … Gonzalez set a new FBS all-time record last week, connecting on his 89th career field goal. Gonzalez has not only been a consistent kicker for four years, he is a real weapon. He leads the nation in field goals of over 50 yards (three already this season), and is 16-for-17 overall in field goal attempts so far this fall.


Colorado and Arizona State – head-to-head

Okay, we won’t beat this one to death.

Colorado has never beaten either USC or Arizona State, with the current streak at 18 games (0-11 v. USC; 0-7 v. Arizona State). The lopsided series is not only unusual for Colorado, it’s rare for ASU … the Sun Devils do not have a perfect record over any other team it has played at least six times in its history.

Despite the fact that the two schools are only 589 miles apart, the two programs never met on the gridiron until 2006, with the Sun Devils taking both ends of a home-and-home in ’06 and ’07, 21-3 and 33-14.

Since joining the Pac-12, the Buffs are 0-5 against the Sun Devils … and it hasn’t been close. Arizona State is averaging 47.8 points per game against Colorado, with an average margin of victory of 29.6 points.

It’s no wonder then that last year, even though his 3-2 team beat CU’s 3-2 team, ASU head coach Todd Graham said after the game, “We came out and dominated a team we should dominate”.

It’s up to the Buffs to change that narrative.


Colorado and Arizona State … historical

While Colorado has yet to make its mark against Arizona State head-to-head, the Buffs have significant advantages over the Sun Devils in the grand scheme of things.

Arizona State has a better winning percentage all-time (.612, 21st in history, to CU’s .581, 38th). Otherwise, the advantages are almost all Colorado.

The Buffs lead the Sun Devils in a number of all-time categories:

— All-time wins – 689 (25th) to 600 (47th);

— Conference championships – 26 (10th) to 17 (29th);

— All-time NFL draft picks – 266 (22nd) to 239 (30th);

There are several categories which are close enough to bear watching, including:

— Weeks in the AP poll – Colorado: 294 (26th); Arizona State: 280 (29th);

— All-time first round NFL draft picks: the teams are tied for 24th all-time apiece … with 24.


Colorado and Arizona State … Notes and Numbers

— Arizona State is a statistical oddity. Despite being in last place in the nation in passing yards allowed (404.3 ypg., 50 yards worse than the team ranked 127th), the ASU defense has forced the opposition into three-and-outs in 36.3% of its possessions (33-of-91), the 5th-best percentage in the FBS;

— The Sun Devils have rushed for 18 touchdowns, the fourth-highest total in the country (CU has 12 rushing touchdowns):

— Arizona State has excelled in the second half of games this season. The Sun Devils are averaging 25.8 points in the second half, more than 48 teams in the FBS are managing to score per game;

— Sefo Liufau loves playing against the Sun Devils. Despite the three losses, Liufau has passed for 836 yards against the ASU defenses (including 389 yards last season). That total is already a school record for passing yards against a single opponent;

— It’s Homecoming at Colorado, with the Buffs sporting a 61-35-5 all-time record in 101 Homecoming games;

— Arizona State has Phil Mickelson, but Colorado is the only school with U.S. Open titles (Hale Irwin, 3; Steve Jones, 1);

— Some statistical matchups worth noting:

– Colorado is 22nd in the nation in passing offense; Arizona State is 128th in passing defense:

– Colorado is 11th in the nation in turnover margin (+1.17); Arizona State is 70th (-.17);

– Colorado is 22nd in red-zone scoring percentage, offense (92.6%); Arizona State’s defense is ranked 95th (90%);

– Both teams are ranked in the top 30 nationally in scoring (ASU 39.7 ppg; CU 38.8 ppg), but Colorado is allowing much fewer points (20.7 ppg., 30th nationally, v. ASU’s 33.0 ppg., 98th)


Pac-12 Notes … 

— The last time Washington and Washington State both beat Stanford and Oregon in the same season? 2003;

— Home teams are 13-5 so far in Pac-12 conference play;

— Oregon has a bye week to mend the wounds of a four game losing streak. The last time the Ducks lost four straight was in 2006. The last time Oregon lost five straight (the Ducks take on the Cal Bears next Friday) was in 1996;

— Washington leads the nation in turnover margin, at +2.17;

— In individual categories … Washington’s Jake Browning leads the nation in passing efficiency; Washington State’s Luke Falk leads the nation in completions per game (36.6); USC’s Adoree Jackson leads the nation in punt returns (18.7 ypr.); and Utah’s Mitch Wishnowsky leads the nation in punting (50.5 ypp.).




2 Replies to “Friday Fast Facts – ASU”

  1. I hope this game is sold old Saturday night and Folsom field is rocking! This is a huge game for us and I hope we make a strong statement Saturday night. Can’t wait! CU at the game!

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