Welcome to week two of the college football regular season and welcome back to another edition of the Cynical Sun Devil, where I, Shane Theodore, evaluate Arizona State's upcoming opponent and try to find a way to ruin all of the optimism heading into the game. No, really, that's what I do.
Last week Arizona State opened up the 2014 campaign with a breezy 45-14 victory over Weber State, while the Lobos lost to UTEP 31-24. What can we extrapolate from those results? Well, nothing. Weber State is the worst team in the lowly Big Sky Conference, and New Mexico will be without both their starting quarterback and running back when they host the Sun Devils on Saturday.
Still, road matchups have proved to be early spoilers to Arizona State's seasons. In fact, not since 2007, when they beat Stanford 41-3 in Palo Alto has Arizona State won their first road game. That stretch includes losses at Cal, Illinois, Wisconsin, Mizzou and the blowout loss at Stanford last year.
New Mexico presents a unique attack, running a triple-option offense that is similar to that of Navy, who the Sun Devils creamed in the 2012 Fight Hunger Bowl. So why should they still be concerned? Backup quarterback Caleb Mitchum will be getting the start with Cole Gautsche out, and Mitchum posseses what Gautsche doesn't, a solid throwing arm. Mitchum gives up some mobility to Gautsche but Todd Graham can't just focus on stopping the run against Mitchum.
Running back Teriyon Gipson is a big-play threat a la DJ Foster, while Jhurrel Pressley presents a combination of skills similar to what Marion Grice brought to Tempe.
To expect me, or anyone for that matter to pick New Mexico to beat the Sun Devils would have to be considered either biased or crazy, but weirder things have happened in Albuquerque. Arizona State is favored by 25, but I would not be surprised if New Mexico beat that spread.
The Cynical Sun Devils' Worst Case Scenario
Since New Mexico is only one state away, Todd Graham opts to forgo a flight to save money and rents a few team buses. When Greyhound calls him back and says that they're out of charter buses, he scrambles and calls the Tempe Union High School District. After spending 10 minutes on the phone with the secretary convincing her that he is indeed Todd Graham, he rents three school buses, and head out to New Mexico. Driving through the desert, DJ Foster sees a middle-aged man on the side of the road in his underwear. Foster has no idea what the man's purpose is, but the sight spooks him out.
Six hours later and the Sun Devils are dropped off on the campus of UNM, but the cardboard seats of the school busses do their worst on Coach Graham, and he leaves the defensive gameplan on the bus in his rush to get to a lounge chair. With no clue how to scheme against Mitchum, he runs wild on Arizona State, putting up three touchdowns through the air and two on the ground. Arizona State returns to Tempe a shaken team, and Graham vows to never schedule another game with "those damn Mexican coyotes."