Arizona State vs. San Diego State Game Preview and Prediction
The Aztecs are off to a rough start with a 1-1 record, and an injured starting quarterback. They host the #23 Sun Devils Saturday.
Will Rocky Long’s Aztecs prevail without Christian Chapman against Herman Edward’s re-tuned Sun Devils?
Date: September 15, 2018
Where: SDCCU Stadium, San Diego, CA
When: 10:30pm EST, 7:30pm PST
Spread: San Diego State +5.5 (via Vegas Insiders)
Weather: Sunny and 78 degrees
How to Watch: CBS Sports Network (Get a free trial through FuboTV)
The #23 Arizona State Sun Devils (2-0) are “blazing hot.” They travel to SDCCU Stadium to face the “rocky” San Diego State Aztecs (1-1) this Saturday night for the second game in a home-and-home series after the Aztecs’ 30-20 win in Arizona last year.
Head coach Herman Edwards has made an impressive immediate impact. Since taking the helm, the Sun Devils first routed UTSA 49-7 and followed the win up by defeating the #15 Michigan State Spartans this past Saturday. Arizona State went into the 4th quarter down by a 13-3 margin before persevering through 13 unanswered points in the 4th, including a game-winning 28-yd field goal by Brandon Ruiz as the clock ran out for the win. They did this in part by pulling a San Diego State move: maintaining possession for the final five minutes of the game.
The Aztecs definitely have their work cut out for them.
Why Arizona State Will Win
After last year’s 30-20 home loss to the Aztecs at home, ASU leadership was so shocked they decided, “if you can’t beat them: become them.” Aztecs fans recognize that the Sun Devils have become the Buffalo Bill of NCAA football. The way they’ve collected, stitched together and adorned themselves in SDSU talent is as perturbing as the skin-suit-wearing bad guy from the film, Silence of the Lambs.
Edwards himself is a SDSU alum and 1975 Aztecs defensive back. The Sun Devils recently poached Aztecs defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales. As if that wasn’t enough, they double-dipped and also nabbed SDSU cornerbacks coach Tony White. The Sun Devils coaching squad looks quite familiar and they are now running plays that to Aztecs fans are like “deja-vu all over again.”
Offensively, after two games against UTSA and Michigan State, Arizona State is averaging 32.5 points per game on 463.5 total yards per game. Manny Wilkins has been highly productive. He has completed 46/72 passes for 617 yards, five touchdowns and one interception.
6’4″, 221-lb. N’Keal Harry is playing well and is a potential NFL Draft first round draft pick. Wide receiver Kyle Williams has also been a strong contributor. Eno Benjamin has rushed for 158 yards and a TD on 29 carries. He has also been a solid pass receiver with 69 yards and a TD on 8 receptions.
Defensively, Arizona State is holding their opponents to an average of 10.0 points per game on 298.5 total yards per game.
Then there’s this:
This is Defensive lineman Darius Slade picking up UTSA running back BJ Daniels and throwing him at the quarterback to force a turnover. ASU’s Renell Wren did it again against Michigan State when he picked up their center and hurled him at the quarterback for another turnover.
The Sun Devils are looking for redemption after the embarrassing loss at home last year to the then red-hot Aztecs. This year they’ll be trying to beat the Aztecs at their own game, with their former coaches.
Also, the Aztecs will have a backup Quarterback in the game as Christian Chapman recovers from a knee injury.
Why San Diego State Will Win
Juwan Washington is averaging 157 yards and two touchdowns per game so far. While the Sun Devils are relieved Rashaad Penny is gone, they are not out of the woods. Washington is intent on being the third-straight 2,000 yard running back for the Aztecs, and he outproduced Bryce Love by a factor of five in the game against Stanford. Washington also has three career kickoff returns for touchdown.
Rocky Long’s Aztecs come equipped with a strong defensive line, and might once again give the Sun Devils’ offense major pressure.
The offensive line is more experienced than last year, and this will be vital to prevent the pocket from folding when starting quarterback Ryan Agnew attempts to deploy an air assault. SDSU’s O-line will have to do a better job containing the Sun Devils and preventing them from “hurling players” into the quarterback.
Agnew is highly proficient at running for the chains as well. Watch for that.
Quarterback Christian Chapman is sidelined for 3-6 weeks, and regrettably won’t be running the plays on Saturday. Chapman has been a part of San Diego State’s formula- and many critics would be quick to point out that he has not been the centerpiece of the program. Still many argue he is the most prolific quarterback in Aztecs football to date.
What Will Happen
This will be a fierce battle, and all three teams are going to have to score if the Aztecs are to prevail. The Sun Devils are rock solid, and these two teams will be running similar plays. It will be up to Rocky Long to outplay the Sun Devils with an integrated Aztecs defensive strategy- with a backup quarterback. Aztecs have home field advantage. Goodbye horses.
San Diego State 24, Arizona State 23