Over the course of the remaining weeks separating us from the return of Sun Devil football, House of Sparky is taking a week-by-week look at the opponents ASU will take on this season. So far we've covered ASU's non-conference schedule as well as their first Pac-12 opponent of the year. One week after traveling to UCLA, ASU returns home to host Colorado.
Opponent Primer Schedule:
July 8 - Texas A&M - Read
July 13 - Cal Poly - Read
July 15 - New Mexico - Read
July 20 - USC - Read
July 22 - UCLA - Read
July 27 - Colorado
July 29 - Utah
August 5 - Washington State
August 10 - Washington
August 12 - Arizona
August 17 - Cal
Colorado's 2014 Season
Mike MacIntyre's second season as the Buffaloes' head coach was another year Colorado would like to forget. The Buffaloes opened the season by dropping their rivalry game against Colorado State in a 31-17 loss at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium. A week later, Colorado survived a thriller at Gillette Stadium against MAC foe UMass, skating by with a 41-38 victory.
In the Buffaloes' first true home game, Colorado put up a fight against Arizona State, as it went into halftime trailing the then-No. 16 Sun Devils 17-14 before ASU exploded for 21 points in the third quarter to pull away.
Colorado's second and final hurrah came on Sept. 20 when it defeated Hawai'i by winning 21-12. Things fell apart as the Buffaloes finished the rest of the season on a eight-game losing streak, falling to Cal, Oregon State, USC, UCLA in overtime, Washington, Arizona, Oregon and Utah.
RB Tony Jones — Jones was one of the Buffaloes' three-headed rushing attack last year, leading all rushers in carries with 94. He finished the 2014 season with 403 yards and three touchdowns.
DT Josh Tupou — Tupou is technically still on the team, but he will be sitting out the entire 2015 season after being arrested for assault during a house party incident (the case was later dropped). Tupou, a 2014 All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention selection, started 31 games in his first three seasons with the Buffaloes and was considered to be Colorado's anchor on the defensive line.
K Will Oliver — The Buffaloes lose their four-year starting kicker in Oliver, who had a field-goal percentage of 76.2 (16-for-21) last year.
WR Nelson Spruce — An All-Pac-12 Second Team honoree last season, Spruce is arguably the conference's top receiver and will be a legitimate contender for the Biletnikoff Award in his senior year. Spruce gave the Sun Devils' secondary fits in last year's meeting, recording 97 yards on seven receptions with two touchdowns. Spruce accumulated a total of 1,198 receiving yards on 106 catches with 12 touchdown receptions for 2014.
QB Sefo Liufau — Liufau will be going into his junior season as a second-year starter. He had a decent game against the Sun Devils last year, going 31-for-46 with three touchdowns while throwing two interceptions. He sported a 65.3 percent completion rate in 2014 and ended the season with 28 touchdown passes.
LB Kenneth Olugbode — The Buffaloes retain their leading tackler (83) for his junior season at will linebacker, lining up alongside fellow veteran Addison Gillam at the middle.
Reasons for optimism
Since Colorado joined the Pac-12 in 2011, it hasn't put up much of a fight at all whenever the Buffaloes visit Tempe, being outscored by ASU 102-27 in two games at Sun Devil Stadium. Colorado retains a lot of key additions and will likely be better, but it's still not enough to match the Sun Devils' talent. An improved and more experienced ASU secondary should be able to contain Spruce.
Reasons for pessimism
Despite appearing to be an easy matchup, several things could go wrong here for the Sun Devils. With ASU being prone to giving up big plays, Colorado has a lot of explosiveness in Spruce, Liufau and running backs Christian Powell and Michael Adkins II. Fatigue could be an issue for the Sun Devils as well, as ASU would be returning from a road game at UCLA a week before and hosted USC two weeks in advance. This would also be a "trap game" before Arizona State heads to hostile Utah the following week.
Also, last year's meeting in Boulder was the game where quarterback Taylor Kelly injured his foot, giving Mike Bercovici the start for the next three games.