Game day is finally here, folks.
It's time for our final staff predictions for Thursday night's showdown between Arizona State and Sacramento State.
Staff Prediction Overview
|Kerry||Ben||Nick M||Ryan||Cody||Nick K|
Kerry Crowley: Arizona State 49, Sacramento State 10
Even with all of the FCS upsets that occurred last week, I don't see Sacramento State even keeping it close with the Sun Devils. The Hornets have a track record of upsets, but Arizona State is so eager and ready to compete after the week one bye that they will have the mental edge. Todd Graham has talked about his team's improvement, and he stresses that his best players are even better this year. It's time to see Taylor Kelly, Will Sutton, and Carl Bradford in action and I'll be honest, I can't wait.
There's nothing quite like game day in college football, and there's so much hype and anticipation surrounding this season. I think I speak for every staff member in saying how exciting it is that we finally get to see what this team is made of. The road to Pasadena starts with a dominant effort against Sacramento State.
Bold Prediction: The Sun Devils will have two 100-yard rushers for the first time since J.R. Redmond (112) and Delvon Flowers (103) did it against Oregon State in 2001.
Ben Haber: Arizona State 45, Sacramento State 3
The long wait for ASU football ends, as the journey toward roses begins. Taylor Kelly's offense and Will Sutton's defense are simply too talented for the Hornets. Game one means the Sun Devils will be hyped up, despite the FCS opponent. Sacramento State's previous upset history against Pac-12 schools is impressive, but every streak must come to an end. Kerry hit the nail on the head. I really want to witness the progression of Sutton, Kelly, Carl Bradford, Alden Darby and more. If Sutton actually got significantly better, then the sky should be the limit.
There have been plenty of years where many believed the Sun Devils were legitimate contenders, but 2013 feels different. It feels valid. Games aren't won on paper, execution and discipline will be the key. I expect the game to be one-sided, and would be surprised if Sacramento State even managed to score a touchdown.
Bold Prediction: Carl Bradford will have at least four sacks.
Nick Marek: Arizona State 38, Sacramento State 10
Breathe Sun Devil fans. I know some of you are nervous but listen to us. This game will not be as upset prone as it may seem. Sacramento State may have a history of beating Pac-12 schools but why is nobody mentioning that they got SHUT OUT 24-0 to San Jose State. The Hornets had two turnovers and no running game. The Sun Devils' defense is going to rake in monstrous numbers this week, especially if SJSU didn't allow a field goal.
The offense is going to thrash the Hornets. The Pac-12 will see in game one that Kelly's 2012 season was not a fluke and like Kerry boldly predicted, I too believe DJ Foster and Marion Grice will have breakout games. The receiving core will be just fine to start things off and the team's o-line and overall protection is improved this season. The leaders will step up, but the one thing to watch is for ASU to have consistent drives. This is NOT the week fans need to see an opening drive touchdown and then back-to-back three and outs. That would not be acceptable. Good thing ASU has Sacramento State because I predict Mill Ave. will be jammed by the third quarter.
Bold Prediction: ASU will only commit two penalties.
Ryan Bafaloukos: Arizona State 52, Sacramento State 14
On paper Arizona State is just better than the Hornets and under Todd Graham the Sun Devils have beaten every opponent they should beat. Graham and his staff do a great job keeping the team focused on the team ahead of them, so I do not expect Arizona State to take Sacramento State lightly. I think Arizona State will go out and execute very well and get a lead early. I see Arizona State holding a big halftime lead and keeping up the pace in the second half.
Sun Devil fans should look for how the new weapons on offense get involved. How comfortable do Jaelen Strong and Ellis Jefferson look out there under the lights? It may not matter against Sacramento State, but against Wisconsin those new players will be key. Look for the Arizona State defense to feast on a Sacramento State offense that got shut out by San Jose State. Arizona State should fly to the ball and force turnovers at will.
Bold Prediction: The Sun Devils will have two 100-yard receivers.
Cody Ulm: Arizona State 57, Sacramento State 7
As Bafa wrote, Graham simply isn't the type of coach to allow a letdown against a team they're supposed to beat. Expect him to put the pedal to the metal and leave it there until about half way through the third quarter. I would be shocked if the Sun Devils had less than three takeaways in this one. The big plays on offense should be there too so it will at least be mildly entertaining through halftime.
Really though, these type of contests are just trial runs. If the kicking and punting games look solid enough, I'll be satisfied. Wouldn't hurt to see what Ellis Jefferson, Jaelen Strong and De'Marieya Nelson offer in the receiving department either. Now are we blacking out Bucky yet?
Bold Prediction: The Sun Devils will not turn over the ball Thursday.
Nick Krueger: Arizona State 63, Sacramento State 10
Remember what happened last Saturday? Eight FBS teams lost to FCS teams. Graham won't let that happen, this team and its leaders won't let that happen. Expect a few deep balls from Kelly to Strong with a balanced running game to open up a sizable lead by halftime and then ground and pound the rest of the way home. It doesn't give the team an excuse to just use their talent though. This team needs to win the right way by staying within Graham's game plan, don't just win on talent alone. This is a necessary game to build on the fundamentals and prepare for Wisconsin. The cupcake games are just a matter of due process every year unfortunately. As long as ASU scores early and often the Hornets won't be any issue at all.
Bold prediction: 6 combined sacks between Sutton and Bradford