Arizona State Sun Devils (2-0, 0-0 Pac-12) vs. Colorado Buffaloes (1-1, 0-0 Pac-12)
Kickoff: 7 p.m MST/10 p.m EST
Location: Boulder, Colorado - Folsom Field
Television: ESPNU (Anish Shroff, Kelly Stouffer, Cara Capuano)
Radio: 620 AM/Sirus 136 (Tim Healy, Jeff Van Raaphorst, Doug Franz)
Weather: Saturday calls for mostly sunny with a high of 72 degrees and a low of 46 degrees. Should be right around 50 degrees for kickoff.
Series History: The Sun Devils lead the all-time series 5-0 and have beaten Colorado the past three seasons by an average of 36 points.
Colorado in 2014: The Buffaloes started the season with a 31-17 defeat to in-state rival Colorado State. Colorado allowed 400 yards of offense in that game, including 266 on the ground. Colorado picked up its first victory of the season last Saturday when it rallied to defeat UMASS on the road. The Buffaloes were down 31-20 midway through the third quarter before outscoring the Minutemen 21-7 the rest of the way.
The Buffaloes rank 103rd nationally in points against, giving up an average of 34.5 points per game. Colorado averages 29 points per game and rank 88th in the nation in rushing yards per game.
Arizona State on offense: The Sun Devils are scoring on a frantic rate this season. Arizona State ranks 9th nationally in points per game and 7th nationally in rushing yards. Much of Arizona State's success rushing the football is due to DJ Foster.
Foster rushed for 216 yards in Arizona State's victory over New Mexico last Saturday, becoming the first Sun Devil to rush for over 200 yards in a game since Delvon Flowers in 2001. Foster's 363 rushing yards this season ranks him third nationally, only behind James Conner (Pitt) and Aaron Jones (UTEP).
"I think he's, number one, a special player. Number two, they get him the ball in a lot of good situations on the edge and in what I call some power read plays," Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "Some outside type horn, where they get the ball outside on the edge. Then, he's a really good cutback runner. So, that's where he makes a lot of his hay."
Quarterback Taylor Kelly has been as good as he has had to be so far this season. The redshirt senior is completing 61.7-percent of his passes and has three touchdowns to zero interceptions. Last week against New Mexico, Kelly was 11/20 for 192 yards and two touchdowns.
"He (Kelly) doesn't hold the ball really long. That offense is truly more of a spread type offense," said MacIntyre. "They don't always play with four (wide receivers), but you'll look out there and it looks like four (wide receivers). They'll have running backs out at wide receiver. They do the same formations out of the same personnel group. So, you'll have to be ready to be able to adjust to everything."
Cameron Smith was Arizona State's leading receiver against New Mexico, catching four passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. Jaelen Strong caught three balls for 43 yards and a touchdown, with Foster also catching three passes. Arizona State tight ends are still without a reception on the season as the team continues to struggle replacing Chris Coyle.
RB DJ Foster vs. ILB Addison Gillam: Foster has without a doubt been Arizona State's best offensive player in the first two games of the season. He has three rushes of over 40 yards, last season the Sun Devils as a team only had two the entire year. He has shown the ability to run between the tackles as well as break the big play for the Sun Devils.
Gillam, despite being just a sophomore, is the leader of the Colorado defense. The defense has not been very good early in the season, but if the Buffaloes are going to stop Foster, Gillam will be a big part of that.
WR Jaelen Strong vs. CB Greg Henderson: Strong was relatively quite against New Mexico, just three catches for the redshirt junior. Henderson started all 12 games in 2013 for Colorado, leading the team with four interceptions. Henderson has been a staple of the Colorado secondary since 2011 and is the best cornerback that Colorado has. He draws a tough assignment but it is a matchup to watch on Saturday.
Arizona State on defense: The Sun Devils held New Mexico to just 3.6 yards per attempt last Saturday, however the Lobos finished with a surprisingly high 130 passing yards. Arizona State ranks 45th nationally in points allowed per game and the team forced three turnovers against New Mexico.
"They're a very athletic defense," said Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau. "They've lost some key guys from, last year. But, I think they have some really good young guys stepping up. (There isn't) many weak spots on their defense."
The Sun Devils rank third in the Pac-12 in total defense, surrendering 322.5 yards per game. Arizona State ranks 2nd in the Pac-12 in passing defense and 10th in the conference in rushing defense.
"They're an athletic defense, they're flying around," said Colorado wide receiver Nelson Spruce. "They have lost a lot of their main starters from last year but watching them on film, I think they replaced them with some good guys so, it's a good test going into the Pac-12."
Spur linebacker Laiu Moeakiola recorded nine tackles, recovered a fumble and had two tackles for loss against New Mexico, prompting head coach Todd Graham to elevate the redshirt sophomore to captain status. Arizona State finished with eight tackles for loss against New Mexico and forced two fumbles.
During practice this week, Antonio Longino has been working primarily as the Devilbacker with Edmond Boateng joining Tashon Smallwood, Jaxon Hood and Marcus Hardison along the defensive line.
CB Lloyd Carrington/Armand Perry vs. WR Nelson Spruce: The junior from Westlake Village, California, has filled the shoes of former Buffalo and current Seattle Seahawk Paul Richardson nicely. Spruce ranks 8th nationally with 249 receiving yards and has caught four of quarterback Sefo Liafau's five touchdown passes. Spruce is the security blanket for his quarterback and the primary weapon of the Colorado offense.
QB Sefo Liafau vs. ASU Secondary: The Colorado quarterback has been very good this season, throwing for five touchdowns and 559 yards in two games. The Arizona State secondary is very young and this will be their first real challenge of the 2014 season. The Buffaloes have some talented wide receivers and Liafau is much improved since the game in 2013.
The Final Breakdown
Colorado is by far the worst team on paper in the Pac-12 South and one of the worst teams in the FBS. The Buffaloes were down double digits to UMASS last week and have only won four conference games in the past three seasons. While Mike MacIntyre has the team moving in the right direction, they are at least two or three years away from competing in the Pac-12.
Colorado is also the youngest team in the Pac-12 and has the 11th youngest roster in the FBS. This is a team that is struggling to run the football, their leading rusher Christian Powell has just 88 rushing yards through two games. The Sun Devils have beaten Colorado by an average of 36 points over the past three season, most don't expect this game to be much closer.
Final Prediction: Arizona State 45, Colorado 17