Scouting the Opposition

… Previews for Colorado State, Texas State, Northern Colorado and Washington can be found here … UCLA preview can be found here … Arizona preview can be found here … Oregon State preview can be found here … Washington State preview can be found here … California preview can be found here


Game Ten – at Arizona State – November 4th

Last game … October 15, 2016 Colorado 40, Arizona State 16 … Phillip Lindsay rushed for 219 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Colorado Buffaloes to their first win over Arizona State in their history, 40-16.

Lindsay averaged 8.4 yards on 26 carries and his big day included a 75-yard rumble on the first snap of the second half. He also scored from 13 yards out and capped a memorable evening with a 4-yard run in the final minute.

The Buffs ran for 315 yards overall.

“We didn’t play very well and my hat goes off to them because they ran the ball on us unlike anyone has ever run it the whole time I’ve been at Arizona State,” said Sun Devils fifth-year coach Todd Graham.

Sefo Liufau threw for 265 yards on 23 of 31 passing against the nation’s worst pass defense in his return to the Buffs starting lineup for the first time since spraining his left ankle at Michigan on Sept. 17.

… The 2016 CU/Arizona State game story, “Making a Statement“, can be found here …


2016 Arizona State results – 5-7 (2-7 in Pac-12 play)

– Returning starters, Offense: 6 … Returning starters, Defense: 7


– 2016 National Rankings (Offense)

— Scoring – 40th … 33.3 points per game  (Colorado – 51st … 31.1 points per game)

— Rushing – 112th … 131.5 yards per game  (Colorado – 56th … 182.6 yards per game)

— Passing – 39th … 259.3 yards per game  (Colorado – 47th … 254.5 yards per game)

— Total – 81st … 390.8 yards per game  (Colorado – 47th … 437.1 yards per game)

– 2016 National Rankings (Defense)

— Scoring – 124th … 39.8 points per game  (Colorado – 20th … 21.7 points per game)

— Rushing – 56th … 163.1 yards per game  (Colorado – 44th … 148.9 yards per game)

— Passing – 128th … 357.4 yards per game  (Colorado – 20th … 193.6 yards per game)

— Total – 127th … 520.5 yards per game  (Colorado – 19th … 342.5 yards per game)


How the Buffs fit into the Sun Devils’ 2017 schedule

By the time Colorado visits Tempe the first weekend of November, the temperature in the desert may be tolerable, but the heat may be turned up nonetheless.

Todd Graham is entering his sixth season as the head coach at Arizona State. Graham has an overall record of 39-26, but only 11-14 the past two seasons. In the Coaches Hot Seat website rankings, Graham is No. 2 in the nation (behind on Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly) on the list of coaches needing to win – and win big – this season.

CU is Arizona State’s ninth game of the 2017 season, and Graham’s fate might already be sealed when the Buffs face the Sun Devils. Arizona State has New Mexico State, San Diego State, and Texas Tech on the non-conference slate, with the chance of losing two of three. The five Pac-12 games before CU … Oregon; at Stanford; Washington; at Utah; and USC.

It’s hard to believe Arizona State will be favored in any of those games.

If the Sun Devils are 1-7, 0-5 when the Buffs come to town, there may be more CU fans in the stands than ASU fans.

If there is a resurrection in the desert, and Arizona State is 5-2, 2-3, it could be a tough road trip for the Buffs.


Street and Smith’s has Arizona State as the No. 5 team in the Pac-12 South.

Arizona State coach Todd Graham giddily moved his team into a 118,000-square foot home at the north end of Sun Devil Stadium over the summer, a place intended to attract recruits and, he says, match the university’s standard of innovation.

“It’s a game changer for us,” Graham says.

The question is whether he’ll be around when the rest of the $268 million reconstruction job is finished.

The Sun Devils imploded at the end of last season, losing their last six games and ending on what couldn’t have been a worse note: giving up 511 rushing yards to woeful Arizona after already having the worst passing defense in the nation.


Lindy’s has Arizona State as the No. 6 team in the Pac-12 South (11th overall in the Pac-12), the No. 65 team in the nation

Primary Strengths … Whether it’s an improved returning starter in quarterback Manny Wilkins or Alabama transfer Blake Barnett, an upgraded quarterback position will have a dangerous arsenal of skill players. Defensive end JoJo Wicker and linebacker Koron Crump are proven pass rushers, and the return of linebacker Christian Sam helps everyone fit better into natural roles in what could be a stout front seven.

Potential Problems … It’s hard not to point to an ASU secondary that has ranked last in pass defense in consecutive seasons. Phil Bennett, a first-year coordinator at ASU, is working with that group and will have the burden of making an immediate impact. A relatively inexperienced offensive line must adequately mature so a potent offense can realize its potential.

Overview … Following back-to-back losing seasons, a winning record would be a welcome sight in Tempe. It’s a feat that should be in reach, provided ASU can present an effective and balanced offense and successfully repair a porous defense. But ASU’s path to success will be far from a smooth journey as it adapts to more than a handful of new assistants and new schemes.


Athlon has Arizona State as the No. 5 team in the Pac-12 South, the No. 53 team in the nation (CU is 3rd in the Pac-12 South; No. 34 overall) … Projected record: 5-7; 2-7

I can’t get a read on that situation. They’re changing things up again with the coordinators, so it’s hard to know what they’ll look like” – An opposing Pac-12 assistant coach

Final Analysis … In the talent game, the Sun Devils are headed in the right direction, but still are not near their destination. Graham has quadrupled the number of four- and five-star recruits on his roster over a five-year period, but much of the talent is still young. If the Sun Devils can stabilize this season, with improvements in the secondary and at quarterback, they’ll likely be over the hump transitioning into 2018, when most of their best players will return. However, Graham may need to reach a bowl game this year to make sure he’s still around.



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