Staff Predictions for Colorado vs Arizona State
TEMPE, AZ The Blaze Sports Directors and Writers give their assessments and predictions for Saturday’s game between Colorado and Arizona State.
Michael Baron // Blaze Sports Beat Writer
It’s the annual Salute to Service game at ASU as the Sun Devils look to regroup following a 48-17 homecoming loss to then No. 21 USC. Today, they face the Colorado Buffaloes and look to stay competitive within the Pac-12 South.
I believe this game will be high scoring as we have two talented quarterbacks going head-to-head. Steven Montez had a phenomenal week last Saturday in a 44-28 win over Cal with 347 yards passing and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, in the loss to USC, Manny Wilkins threw for 259 yards and one touchdown. Expect both quarterbacks to throw for at least 200 yards tonight (more on that later). In the rushing game, Colorado has the fourth top rusher in FBS D-I in Phillip Lindsay. Lindsay has rushed for 1,254 yards and 10 TDs in his redshirt senior season.
In fact, as it stands right now, the Sun Devils will have faced three of the nation’s top four rushers in FBS (Stanford’s Bryce Love and SDSU’s Rashaad Penny lead the way). A big question of mine is can ASU match the productivity and effect of Lindsay on the field. A healthy Kalen Ballage will help, but can both Ballage and Demario Richard take pressure off Wilkins and make ASU’s offense multi-dimensional?
Defense, on the other hand, will likely not be one of the highlights of the evening. Outside of the Washington and Utah games, ASU’s defense has struggled, especially against tough tailbacks. Last Saturday, the Devils had difficulty limiting quarterback Sam Darnold and running back Ronald Jones II. Jones II garnered 216 yards and averaged 12 yards per carry, both the most of the 2017 season. While defense was a bright spot for the Buffaloes last year, this season has been a different story.
CU comes to Tempe ranked 93rd in the country in total defense, 81st against the run and 91st in average passing yards allowed. Those numbers are marginally better than ASU’s defensive stats, but I expect a close, high-scoring affair. In the end, though, I think ASU playing under the lights of Sun Devil Stadium and this being the annual Salute to Service game gives this contest special meaning. Look for the Sun Devils to pick up “W” No. 5 in 2017.
PREDICTION: Colorado 35, Arizona State 42
Harley Yearout // Blaze Sports Beat Writer
Well, last week certainly isn’t what ASU fans wanted to see from their team headed into the final month of college football’s regular season.
As Todd Graham spoke about this week, November is a huge month in this sport. For ASU, it is a chance to rebound from last week’s 48-17 loss to USC. Colorado may not have the best record (5-4), but they do have something ASU has struggled with all season: a talented running back.
Senior running back Phillip Lindsay gave ASU heaps of trouble last season, tallying 219 yards and 3 touchdowns. He ranks third in the nation in yards, behind two other familiar faces: SDSU’s Rashaad Penny and Stanford’s Bryce Love.
The theme in those games? ASU’s inability to stop the run. Stopping Lindsay is the key to this game. Look for an ASU defense that got torn apart last weekend to be hungry and rebound. If they don’t, ASU will be in for a long night
PREDICTION: Colorado 28, Arizona State 31
No one expected ASU (4-4, 3-2) to be in position the vie for a bowl game after the 1-2 start to its season, coupled with the grueling Pac-12 schedule that loomed ahead, but here they are. The question is which Sun Devil team will we see tonight in Tempe?
Tonight Colorado (5-4, 2-4) continues to underachieve, and ASU rebounds the way it should after the USC throttling last week in a Salute to Service kind of way.
PREDICTION: Colorado 14, Arizona State 48
After the drubbing that ASU took last week at the hands of USC, a quick start will be crucial against another tough opponent, Colorado.
The Devils relapsed last week on both offense and defense giving up over 600 yards to USC’s offense. That included 200+ yards to running back Ronald Jones. The road doesn’t get any easier this week when Buffs stud, Phillip Lindsey comes to Tempe.
Ultimately though, this is a game ASU should win. Home field advantage is a big factor and the Devils will play with a chip on their shoulder as they honor Pat Tillman.
PREDICTION: Colorado 24, Arizona State 30
These next four games will not only define the season but will also determine the fate of Todd Graham’s future at ASU.
If ASU beats Colorado, they can get momentum going into back to back lighter weeks vs UCLA and Oregon State before the Territorial Cup. However, if they lose, this could be a long month for Arizona State. The Sun Devils will face another tough running back to add to the long list of quality RB’s they’ve seen all season.
Slowing down Colorado senior RB Phillip Lindsay will be instrumental if ASU is to get the victory. In addition, Arizona State needs to get back to controlling the time of possession, a huge factor in beating Washington and Utah. If the Sun Devil defense can do just enough and ASU quarterback Manny Wilkins can get WR N’Keal Harry going, Arizona State will walk away with the win. It should be a close one in Tempe.
PREDICTION: Colorado 30, Arizona State 33
Last week’s performance against USC was horrific, to say the least. There was no discipline and Kalen Ballage was sidelined with an illness. Things need to change…now.
This game is make or break for Arizona State. They are taking on an offense that looks strong on paper. Can they get to the quarterback but most important, can they not take unnecessary penalties? (Cough, cough Tashon Smallwood).
With Ballage back in the tailback position, ASU needs to stick with their fast-paced style of offense to ware down the Colorado defense. Manny Wilkins needs protection…simple as that. I think all of those things will happen for ASU and more positive things will go their way on Saturday night. I see a close ball game with the Sun Devils pulling away late. Make or break game…
PREDICTION: Colorado 27, Arizona State 42