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ASU vs. Colorado: Staff gameday roundtable

Our staff assesses the Sun Devils' win over UCLA and debate whether it's a turning point for ASU heading into Saturday's game against Colorado.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Our Panel:
Ryan Bafaloukos - Co-Managing Editor | @RyanBafo
Josh Nacion - Co-Managing Editor | @Josh_Nacion
Kaelen Jones - Staff Writer | @kaelenjones
Chris Schubert - Staff Writer | @ChrisRSchubert
Connor Pelton - Staff Writer | @ConnorPelton28
Kristina Vicario - Staff Writer | @KristinaV_18

Short answers

Obviously, the win over UCLA gave ASU a huge boost in momentum. On a scale of 1 through 10, how close is ASU to its potential?

Bafaloukos: I would probably say a seven or an eight. The offense still is not firing on all cylinders as they finally have everybody healthy. The victory over UCLA is as close to a complete game as I have seen ASU play in a long time. Offense, defense and special teams all excelled, the task now is to continue that throughout the rest of conference play.

Nacion: I'll give ASU a 7. The win over UCLA was huge, but it seemed more like it was overdue. It's nice that ASU's defense and special teams are the departments that win games for the Sun Devils, but the offense still has ways to go.

Jones: I'd say they're at 8.8, if not higher, honestly. ASU's win over a UCLA was a complete team effort with nearly every position group playing up to its full capabilities...Not sure they can turn in a more total performance than they did in Pasadena, aside from a couple areas.

Schubert: Six, and climbing. If you asked me last week before the game, I would have said closer to a 3. This team had a huge win last week, and need to build off of that. If they do, they will get to their full potential.

Pelton: The win at UCLA was definitely either a 9 or 10 on the potential scale for Arizona State. If Todd Graham can get his team to play like that in every game from here on out, the Sun Devils should be Pac-12 champions. But that is easier said than done, of course.

Vicario: I'd say after the UCLA game last week ASU is at about a six right now. Defense had one of its best games against the Bruins and the pass protection for Bercovici seemed to be much improved. Both special teams and the d-line were huge in the win and I would say both units are performing at about an eight out of 10 in potential. However, I think what is keeping the Sun Devils from reaching full potential is utilizing Bercovici's strong arm to throw the long ball and create those explosive plays that will shift morale throughout the game.

Saturday saw a lot of fixes for ASU, but what was one thing you saw that still needed to be fixed the most?

Bafaloukos: I would have to say punt returns. The Sun Devils rank second to last in the conference, averaging just four yards per return. I also think ASU needs to capitalize more off turnovers. The Sun Devils have just 10 points off turnovers through five games and that needs to improve when ASU plays the likes of Utah, Oregon and Cal.

Nacion: Finding a rhythm on offense. For the past three years, it seemed like the offense could score anytime it wanted to. I still didn't see that against UCLA, but maybe a Kalen Ballage in a full force, a confident Mike Bercovici and a passionate Mike Norvell on the sidelines could boost ASU even more.

Jones: Defending the deep ball comes to mind, but I'd say it's finding consistency amongst the receivers. I counted at least four drops against UCLA in a contest Mike Bercovici (finally) had time to deliver the ball to his targets. However, they struggled to consistently create enough separation to help No. 2 out. While D.J. Foster had his moments, he nor anyone else has really had a dominant game so far this season. Of course, this is partially due to Bercovici's ability to spread out his target distribution, but there's undoubtedly room for improvement here.

Schubert: Fluidity on the offense. It would be nice to see a full onslaught offensively.

Pelton: If the team puts together a performance like they did last week at the Rose Bowl, they should be golden. I am most concerned about what's going on in their heads right now. It has already been an emotional roller coaster of a season, and now Colorado comes calling in a game sandwiched between two marquee opponents. The players need to be focused in for all 60 minutes or an upset is a very real possibility.

Vicario: Third down conversions. ASU was 10-of-23 against the Bruins, and four of the Sun Devils' 16 possessions were three-and-outs. This is such a momentum staller, and especially in games where the pass protection is not the brick wall that it needs to be and it's even harder to get the drive started than to keep it going.

With USC losing to Washington on Thursday, it further shows how much of a deathtrap the Pac-12 can be. Is there too much parity in the conference where it hurts the champion's chances of making it to the College Football Playoff?

Bafaloukos: I think so. I don't see anybody escaping the South with fewer than two losses. I think the only real hope left for the conference is either Cal or Stanford because with the way the South looks, nobody is escaping with a perfect record. On top of that, I don't think the Pac-12 has the national respect that the SEC has which means a two loss team more than likely won't make the playoff.

Nacion: Yes, and my answer mirrors Ryan's. Unless Utah holds up for the rest of the season, Utah, UCLA, USC and ASU will continue to beat each other up with Arizona and Colorado having chance to play spoiler. I also don't think the Pac-12 has enough national respect to sneak a two-loss team into the Playoff, whereas a conference like the SEC could get away with it. It would be a different story had ASU beaten Texas A&M at the beginning of the season.

Jones: Yes, there is (unfortunately). Personally, I believed USC and UCLA to represent the conference's best shots at reaching the Playoff. Utah is the conference's best chance as of now, and even they aren't without their flaws. Ultimately, should the Pac-12 champion have two blemishes on its record, they would be left out of the CFP conversation as a result.

Schubert: The only team left in the Pac-12 with a chance to make the College Football Playoff is probably Utah. With so many good teams, it's very hard to run the table in this league. But some can rise above the rest, as we've seen with Oregon in years past. This year, it will have to be Utah.

Pelton: I don't think there is too much parity. Does it hurt the conference's chances of getting a team into the playoff? Absolutely. But I'll trade that spot to see a big upset or two every week. That's what makes college football entertaining, at least to me.

Vicario: I'd say no and my example A would be Utah. The Utes are No. 5 in the College Football AP Top 25 Poll and are 4-0. They are 1-0 in conference play, slaughtering Oregon 62-20 in the Ducks' house. The Pac-12 is one of the deepest conferences in college football and while there's a very similar caliber of competition between seven or eight of its 12 teams, I feel there's always the team that emerges out of the smoke late in the season and differentiates itself from the competition enough to appeal to the CFP committee.

Quick predictions

Bafaloukos Nacion Jones Schubert Pelton Vicario
Over under ASU has a 13.5-point lead before halftime Under Over Under Under Under Over
Does Nelson Spruce catch a touchdown? Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Will we have a Manny Wilkins sighting? No Yes Yes No No No
Who wins? ASU, 45-21 ASU, 41-17 ASU, 38-20 ASU, 41-20 ASU, 35-24 ASU, 38-17