San Diego State University at Arizona State University
September 9, 2017/8:00 PM PACN TV
Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe Arizona
After taking care of business against the FCS school, UC Davis, in week one, the Aztecs travel to Tempe, Arizona to take on Pac-12 opponent Arizona State. Kickoff is at 8:00 pm PST.
Arizona State also won its first game of the season against New Mexico State by a score of 37-31. The game was played at Sun Devil Stadium. Arizona State wasn’t very convincing in their win, and shouldn’t put up a huge fight against a better SDSU squad. The game is on the road, so you never know.
Arizona State is favored by 3.5 points. The Sun Devils performed poorly last season with a 5-7 record that earned them a trip to the bottom of the Pac-12 standings.
They are certainly more of a passing team rather than rushing. Quarterback Manny Wilkins threw for 300 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s game against New Mexico State.
Wide receiver John Humphrey had seven receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown.
On an unfortunate note for Arizona State, senior safety Marcus Ball decided earlier this week to retire from football due to seizures. He has been dealing with epileptic seizures for the past three years.
This is the first game of two against Pac-12 opponents for the Aztecs. Next week, they host Stanford in San Diego.
Some keys for the Aztecs to win against the Sun Devils are controlling time of possession and minimize turnovers. The Aztecs solid running game should use a lot of the clock. Arizona State has a very poor defense, and the Aztecs shouldn’t struggle to put up points. Keeping the Sun Devil defense on the field will tire them out and slow them down. The Aztecs had quite a few penalties in week one against UC Davis, and they will need to avoid that, as well as turnovers, to win the game. Arizona State’s passing attack will be able to capitalize on good field position, especially at home.
A win against Arizona State will help put the Aztecs on the map. It would be a win against a power five conference team. If the Aztecs can win this week, and against Stanford next week, they will likely find themselves within the top-15 teams in the country. If Stanford beats USC this week, and then the Aztecs defeat them the following week, they will definitely get nationwide praise.
Rashaad Penny is the impact player for the Aztecs, as he rushed for nearly 200 yards against UC Davis. He did that in only three quarters. Penny should go over 200 yards against Arizona State. I think he is going to have a huge game for the Aztecs. Watch for Penny to get the rock plenty of times this week. Penny has emerged as the face of the 2017 Aztecs. The big bruising back also has excellent speed and ability to return kickoffs.
Another key to the Aztecs’ success is establishing the pass. If Chapman can play consistently, and wide receivers Mikah Holder and Quest Truxton can find some success, it will keep the Sun Devils’ defense very off-balance. The Aztecs’ starting two receivers combined for just five catches and 42 yards against UC Davis.
Starting tight end David Wells is questionable against ASU after missing the first game. His backup, Kahale Warring, was the Aztecs’ most effective pass catcher in week one, with five receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown.
If the Aztecs can run the ball the way they can and take care of the ball, they should have no problem putting up points against ASU. The defense also needs to contain ASU’s passing attack which, as mentioned, is their strength.
A win against Arizona State would give the Aztecs the momentum they need going into next week’s game against Stanford.
The Aztecs are listed as underdogs for this game, but I believe they will show up and take care of business. Rocky Long showed his distaste for the Aztecs’ mistakes in the first game, and will have them out there in Arizona ready to play.