Christian Petersen - Getty Images
The Sun Devils look to stay atop the Pac-12 South tonight against Colorado. Here are the five keys to an ASU victory.
Just a few hours remain until the Arizona State Sun Devils take on the Colorado Buffaloes in a key Pac-12 Conference match-up. We've given you our in-depth preview, a behind enemy lines look at the Buffaloes and a great new episode of Speak of the Devils the get you in the know.
Now, we boil it down to the basics...here are the five keys to a Sun Devil victory.
Make Webb beat you
Colorado's offense is pretty bad. Don't believe us? Just look at the numbers. 104th in rushing, 100th in yards-per-game and 100th in scoring. Ick.
One of the reasons for the struggles has been the uneven play of quarterback Jordan Webb. The transfer from Kansas won the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week award for his performance against Washington State, but has been mostly mediocre in the rest of Colorado's games.
The Buffaloes will look to establish the run, even if top back Christian Powell misses the game with a hip injury. ASU will be best served in stopping the run and forcing the Colorado offensive burden onto Webb.
Attack, attack, attack
Arizona State ranks second in the nation in tackles for loss and third in sacks. Colorado's offensive line ranks 115th in allowing tackles-for-loss and next to last in giving up sacks.
Yeah, that'll do nicely.
The Buffaloes do get center Gus Handler back, but the line is still a well below average unit. ASU's Will Sutton (6.5 sacks, 10 TFL), Carl Bradford (4.5 and 7.5), Junior Onyeali (four and six) and Chris Young (two and 9.5) have beaten better lines this season, and should help to wreak havoc against the anemic Colorado offense.
Take advantage of the thin air
After three weeks of struggles, the Sun Devil wide receivers have begun to emerge as playmakers over the past two games, thanks to a focus on fundamentals. The success of the group, in particular Rashad Ross and Kevin Ozier, have helped open things up a bit for Chris Coyle, who as seeing increased attention from defenses. The momentum of the last two games should continue against a Colorado passing defense that ranks 115th in the nation, allowing over 308 yards-per-game and has six freshman or sophomore among the eight on the two-deep depth chart. Taylor Kelly should be able to air it out in pursuit of his third straight three-touchdown game.
Earn another shirt
Two conference games + zero turnovers = two conference wins (and two shirts). Simple formula, hard to execute. The fastest way to bridge the gap between a heavy favorite and the underdog is to turn the ball over, and ASU can't afford to revert back to their fumble-prone early season form.
Taylor Kelly has been among the nation's most efficient passers, and outside of Chidera Uzo-Diribe, the Colorado pass rush is not potent, so he should have plenty of time to sit back and make smart decisions with the ball. The Sun Devil ball carriers will need to hold on tight, and everything should turn out very well.
Start fast and finish it by halftime
Bottom line, ASU is a better team than Colorado. A much better team. In many ways, this can be viewed in a similar light to the Sun Devils' season opener against FCS opponent NAU. The on-field talent disparity is nearly that great, so it's important for ASU to reflect that from the beginning. The Sun Devils need to jump out to an early lead, add to it, and then add even more to it to make sure that the game is no longer in doubt by halftime.