Ahh, now this is where the fun starts! Arizona State did as most high-level college football programs do and scheduled a couple of cupcake games to open the season, but now we're at conference play and we finally get to see how good these Sun Devils are against the loaded Pac-12.
Wait, what? They're playing Colorado? Damnit!
It's really a shame that Colorado is so bad, as the Buffs have won a mere five conference games since joining the Pac-12 in 2011. A rich and storied program that even won a national championship in 1990 is, along with Cal, the current laughingstock of the conference. They're not even the best team in their way-too-elevated state (take that how you wish), as Colorado State whooped the Buffaloes to the tune of 30-17 in Week 1.
Still, Colorado is fresh off a hard-fought victory over UMass, and it's becoming more clear that preseason-Third-Team-Pac-12 wide reciever Nelson Spruce may have been underrated.The junior, who is filling the shoes of now-Seattle Seahawk Paul Richardson, has burst onto the national scene in the first two games of the season, catching 17 balls for 249 yards. Spruce has also scored two touchdowns in each of Colorado's two games. Sophomore quarterback Sefo Liufau is progressing in his first full season under center, having completed 61 percent of his passes and throwing for five touchdowns compared to one interception.
Colorado's defense was supposed to have taken a step up into the upper echelon of the Pac-12 this season but they've struggled through the first two weeks of the season, giving up 69 points to fairly weak foes in Colorado State and UMass. Arizona State's offense has put up a total of 103 points thus far, and the high-powered Sun Devil offense is the last thing a developing defense in Colorado wants to see.
But this game has a feel similar to that that the Sun Devils faced in Utah last season. Remember that game, the closest win the Sun Devils had all year? Arizona State trailed 19-6 and rallied to score two fourth-quarter touchdowns and eeked out a 20-19 win. What did Utah have? A young, developing quarterback who is strong and can stand in the pocket but has scrambling ability, and a grossly-overlooked wide receiver. Travis Wilson and Dres Anderson nearly upset the Sun Devils on their home turf, and Arizona State has gotten to the point that smaller schools get pumped to play them. That's a compliment to the progress that Todd Graham has made in just over two years as coach, but it also places a target on the collective Sun Devil back. Teams like Utah, Colorado and Washington State relish the chance to knock off an upper-echelon team like Arizona State and complacency could spell trouble in Boulder.
Do I actually think that Arizona State will lose? Absolutely not, but the general sense of certainty that Arizona State fans have begun to place on the Sun Devils is dangerous.
Worst Case Scenario
Arriving in Boulder on Friday, the Sun Devil equipment staff forgets to pack the special team water bottles that Todd Graham bought when Arizona State went to Disneyland last year. As a result, Graham and his team arrive in Colorado dehydrated and fall victim to elevation sickness.
When his tired and sluggish team takes the field, the normally high-flying offense that the Sun Devils boast gets off to a slow start, with Kelly throwing an interception and fumbling a snap away. Colorado linebacker Addison Gilliam, a 2013 Freshman-All-American, leads a noble charge, and the Buffaloes enter the half with a 17-10 lead. In the locker room, head coach Mike MacIntyre gives a speech fit for the movie screen.
"Who are we?"
"WE ARE THE BUFFS! LET'S GO STRUT OUR STUFF!"
The Buffaloes return to the field with a sense of urgency, and blow out Arizona State in the second half, winning 35-17. Arizona State leaves with a bruised ego and an intense pain in their abdomen.