Pac-10 Week 8 Notes and Observations: Arizona State Sun Devils
Arizona State Sun Devils 4-3 Overall (2-2 Conference)
This Week’s Score: Stanford 33 – Arizona State 14
Next Week’s Opponent: Cal
The road to bowl eligibility got a bit hazier after Saturday’s loss, especially with the troubling fact that the defense showed signs of being human. With a relatively anemic offense, ASU has leaned hard on their defense to win them games; will they be able to do so down the stretch?
A win over Stanford would have brought the Sun Devils to five wins, which would have given them five chances to get that last win to become bowl eligible. Even if ASU couldn’t pull the upset on one of the conferences’ four currently ranked teams (Cal, USC, @Oregon, Arizona), @UCLA was looking like a fairly winnable game. Now, UCLA becomes a virtual must-win, and ASU’s defense will have to regroup and steal one from one of the big four as well.
The offense only mustered up 290 yards, and the only player that really stuck out offensively was Chris McGaha, who had 6 of ASU’s 13 receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown. Danny Sullivan (12/33, 143 yards) also connected with T.J. Simpson for a touchdown. The running game was somewhat effective in averaging 5.2 yards per carry, but no one back stood out, and the running game quickly became obsolete due to Stanford’s big early lead. Brock Osweiler didn’t do much in his 1/7, 18 yard day to build much excitement for a QB change, either.
We’ve come to expect the sub-par offense from the Sun Devils, but what happened to the defense? Are they finally going to start to crumble after carrying the offense on their shoulders for long? Or was it just an excellent Stanford offense just getting the job done? No matter which it was, four of the last five opponents have offenses just as strong (if not stronger), so it isn’t going to get any easier.
Hopefully it was just an off day, which is my guess; this defense has a ton of talent in the front seven, and they’ll be fine. That said, it’s a moot point if the offense can’t find a way to put points on the board.
The Cal game should be very interesting; the Bears aren’t immune to a late slip up on the road, and the Sun Devils defense might be able to attack like the Trojans and Ducks did and cause some problems for Kevin Riley. Cal’s defense is also arguably the weakest left on ASU’s schedule; so if the offense ever plans on waking up, now would be the time to do it.