Franklin D. Roosevelt once said you have nothing to fear but fear itself. But that guy wasn't fighting for a spot in the Pac-12 Championship.
Although the Sun Devils won't be eliminated with a loss, Arizona State's excellent 2013 campaign really comes down to this Saturday's matchup against the UCLA Bruins. So what should we be most worried about for ASU's visit to the Rose Bowl? Our writer's debate:
Nick Krueger: Myles Jack and Anthony Barr against the Arizona State rushing game. Jack has 69 tackles on the year, can play both sides of the ball and he's a freak athlete. Barr has 51 tackles and seven sacks of his own. If Jim Mora and his coaching staff plan and scheme correctly they could shut down the Arizona State running game while also eliminating drop off passes over the middle or screens. Barr weighs in at 248 while Jack tips the scales at 225. Both have the ability and speed to cover sideline to sideline and break the offensive line contain with ease.
Barr would be enough to worry about on defense alone but since Jack has exploded onto the scene with four touchdowns last weekend against Washington. Although Marion Grice had a similar game against the Huskies, the thought of the Arizona State rushing game getting shut down by these two is a scary one. It's incredibly worrisome especially after Taylor Kelly had a sub-par game last week with two interceptions against Oregon State. If the running game isn't effective because of Barr and Jack and Kelly's confidence in his throws isn't 100 percent the Sun Devils could be in trouble.
Kerry Crowley: As someone who watches the play of the offensive and defensive lines closely, I'm probably going to surprise a few people by not taking a battle in the trenches as something that scares me the most for ASU heading into the UCLA game. Instead, I'm most worried about UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley having a Heisman moment. Will Brett Hundley win the Heisman this season? The odds are stacked against him, but that doesn't mean the redshirt sophomore isn't capable of playing like a Hesiman trophy winner for one game. My fear? That game comes this week.
There's no doubt Hundley will face pressure from the Sun Devil front seven all afternoon on Saturday. The Arizona State defensive line is relentless in getting after the quarterback, but Hundley's the type of player who can maneuver in the pocket, make plays with his feet and then beat the secondary over the top. Hundley has Manziel-like capabilities and can shrug off defenders at a moment's notice, so Arizona State's defensive backs have to stay glued to their receivers and the linebackers have to be ready to pounce in the event he scrambles. I think this game will be close, and it could come down to one or two extraordinary plays from the Bruins' signal-caller.
Ben Haber: The game will be close. The game will be intense. The game will be nerve-racking. Therefore, I expect one field goal or drive to decide the outcome. Alex Garoutte was unable to connect from 46 yards out at UCLA in 2011. If Garoutte nailed it, the Sun Devils would've eventually been Pac-12 South champions.
Flash forward to present day and Zane Gonzalez holds down the job. Gonzalez has made 18-21 attempts (85.7 percent), including 14 straight. The big stage on Saturday makes nailing kicks much tougher. Gonzalez is a true freshman and he has never attempted a game winning kick at the collegiate level. The talent Gonzalez posses isn't under question. At the same time, who knows if Gonzalez can handle the pressure? I don't know if Gonzalez can be clutch and that's my biggest fear.
Casey Rusnak: I'm worried that the ASU defensive line won't be able to get enough pressure on Brett Hundley. Will Sutton and company needs to play their best game of the season against UCLA. If Hundley has plenty of time in the pocket this game could be over quickly. The Sun Devil defense ranks 5th in the Pac-12 with 25, but it sure does seem like they should have a lot more when you consider the talented pass rushers they have. Despite the Bruins great offense, their offensive line is far from the toughest ASU has faced this season. They rank eighth in the Pac-12 in sacks allowed with 23 compared to earlier Sun Devil opponents like Colorado with 15, Oregon State with 20, Washington State with 22, and Utah with 22. The pass rush on third down will be critical to ASU's success as UCLA leads the Pac-12 in 3rd down conversion percentage with an impressive 51.6% conversion rate. Robert Nelson has looked a lot better the past few games and Osahon Irabor is having a great season, but they won't hold up against Hundley with time to throw. It's up to the pass rush to force some bad throws and help out the secondary.
Remember when Will Sutton sacked Cody Kessler on USC's first offensive play earlier this season? A repeat of that on Hundley sure would be epic.