With kickoff just hours away, here are some final thoughts on tonight's huge game:
- This game easily could have over 80 points and 1,000 yards of total offense in it, but in a battle that figures to be dominated in offense, it will ultimately be decided by defense. Which unit can come up with a key turnover? Who can stop the opponent on that fourth quarter drive?
- Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey should have a big night. ASU has struggled against the run in stopping much less talented backs (see: Curtis McNeal & Terron Ward), and Carey may be the best the Sun Devils have seen all year, Kenjon Barner included. The key will be limiting his damage. Don't lose gap control and wrap up and bring him down when touched.
- On the flip side, I like the potential for a big night from Chris Coyle. The Wildcat secondary is quite weak, and being a smaller unit that the 3-3-5 scheme prefers, Coyle can present some match-up problems with his size. I'll be surprised if he doesn't get the five receptions needed to set the school's single-season tight end reception record.
- RichRod's offense is definitely a run-first attack, but they have a lethal pair of wide outs that should concern ASU a great deal. Austin Hill is a great combination of size and speed, and Dan Buckner is a big bodied possession receiver. The ASU secondary has struggled in defending talented receiver duos, and safeties Alden Darby and Keelan Johnson will need to be mistake-free tonight.
- ASU gets a ton of sacks. Arizona doesn't give up too many. With Matt Scott's shaky showing last week against Utah after his concussion, the Sun Devils should come after Scott early, often and from every angle. The Wildcats will be keying on Will Sutton and Carl Bradford, so it'd be huge if another pass rusher such as Brandon Magee or Junior Onyeali can make an impact.
- ASU has shown great discipline all year long, but that will be severely tested in such a hateful atmosphere and in a game in which each play will mean a little bit more and will be contested a little past the whistle.
- With Arizona's offensive firepower and ability to shorten games with Carey and their running game, ASU will want to grab an early lead, or at worst, be within one score in the second half.
- Fans of both teams should hope this game doesn't come down to a field goal or extra point.