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Motel 6 Cactus Bowl: Staff gameday roundable

How does our staff see today's Cactus Bowl going?

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Ourr Panel:

Ryan Bafaloukos - Co-Managing Editor | @RyanBafo
Josh Nacion - Co-Managing Editor | @Josh_Nacion
Kaelen Jones - Staff Writer | @kaelenjones
Kristina Vicario - Staff Writer | @KristinaV_18
Shane Theodore - Staff Writer | @shane_writes
Connor Pelton - Staff Writer | @ConnorPelton28

Short Answer

Considering everything that has happen this season, how much does a win to the Cactus Bowl mean to ASU?

Nacion: I think it will give ASU some relief after a disaster of a season, but I doubt people will remember a win as anything major even a year from now. It also wouldn't be the end of the world at all for Sun Devil fans if ASU loses — it would just magnify any problems the coaches plan to hit "reset" on in the offseason anyway.

Jones: It just allows this group to go out on a positive note following a rocky season.

Vicario: ASU fell to many preseason expectations that predicted them to finish 10-2 in 2015. I think a win in the Cactus Bowl would leave this squad with a positive outlook for the 2016 season, despite its struggles in 2015 which caused them to finish with a .500 record. With two star running backs, a strong receiving corps and a new offensive coordinator, this ASU football team could quickly turn things around in 2016.

Theodore: A lot. Ending the season on a win is vitally important after the long layover between the final game of the regular season and the bowl game. Wouldn't mean much regarding significant bowl victories but ending the year with a win is always important.

Bafaloukos: I think any time you get a bowl win it helps the program in the offseason. For ASU, this game is the difference between finishing above .500 or below .500. It also means sending out Mike Bercovici, D.J. Foster and the other seniors on a high note in what amounts to a home game for the Sun Devils.

Pelton: 7-6 looks a little better than 6-7, but in reality, the result of this game doesn't mean a whole lot. The important thing is that by making a bowl game, Arizona State got a few extra weeks of practices under their belt.

How much of an edge will playing in Phoenix give ASU over West Virginia?

Nacion: ASU will get definitely more than just a regular bowl game. Not only at least 65 percent of Chase Field will be in maroon and gold, but the Sun Devils don't have to worry about jetlag and trying to adjust to a time difference, unlike West Virginia. They've seen everything has to offer, so I'm sure any bowl festivity they went through hasn't been a distraction like every other bowl.

Jones: A big one. The ASU contingent does a great job of showing support regardless of the venue, but it's nice for them to have home-field. It should provide them an emotional advantage.

Vicario: I think playing in Phoenix will give ASU a big boost against a good team like West Virginia who not only will be facing a new climate, but will also see Chase field packed mostly full with ASU fans as West Virginia fans will face a hefty travel fee to find their way 2,000 miles west to Chase field.

Theodore: It'll be tangible. Having their home fans and not having to travel at all will be beneficial but it won't change the outcome.

Bafaloukos: I think it's going to give them a pretty big boost. I would expect the stadium to be around 80-20 in favor of maroon and gold and that is going to be important, especially if it is a close game in the fourth quarter.

Pelton: Should be pretty similar to an ASU home game. It might take a little while to get used to playing in a baseball stadium, but having the advantage of a hometown crowd and being able to sleep in your own bed all week is nice.

Seems like more bowls are finding their way to baseball stadiums (see Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium, Fight Hunger Bowl at San Francisco Giants' AT&T Park, etc.). What are your thoughts, if any, on bowl games being played in ballparks?

Nacion: I think it's cool to see some gridiron in a big-time venue like Yankee Stadium and see Chase Field used as something more than a building that merely hosts Arizona Diamondbacks games, but the configurations always looks weird on television. The lack of symmetry makes my head dizzy.

Jones: I'm a Raiders fan. I'm just happy these are nice baseball fields they're playing these bowl games on.

Vicario: I think bowl games should be kept in football stadiums for the main reason that in a ballpark, generally the fans are not as physically close to the game as they are in a football stadium. I think the hutzpah and fandom is a huge part of all of these bowl games and for that reason I feel the fans should be kept as close to the playing field as possible as that can oftentimes directly affect what is happening on the field.

Theodore: I don't care, too many bowls anyways.

Bafaloukos: ^This guy. I think it's actually sort of cool if they can get it right. I remember a few years back they played a game at Wrigley and play could only go one way because one end zone was too close to the wall or something like that. To me, bowl games are all about unique experiences, whether it be traveling to a new city or playing a team from across the country or in this case playing in a new environment.

Honestly, it would have been kind of lame if ASU played its bowl game in its own stadium.

Pelton: Bowl games are supposed to be fun and interesting, and playing football games in baseball stadiums is certainly interesting. I am glad that it is not a regular occurrence though.

Chip Lindsey will reportedly be calling plays in the Cactus Bowl. What are you looking forward to see in his first game as ASU's new offensive coordinator?

Nacion: I'm intrigued to see how similar Lindsey's style is to Mike Norvell's game. Southern Miss apparently ran a very similar scheme, so I'd like to see how the players respond to it in their first three weeks under a new OC. I've been actually a huge fan of ASU's spread, play-action offense — it's just execution that has made it questionable over the last two seasons or so.

Jones: I'm excited to see Lindsey's play calling. Interested to see how well the running game performs, and whether there's any change in the amount of packaged plays/RPO concepts we see involved.

Vicario: I think Lindsey could revitalize ASU's offense and breathe some fresh air into an oftentimes stagnant offensive scheme. I'm looking forward to seeing Lindsey hopefully open it up more by allowing Bercovici to throw the ball downfield to his dangerous receivers, which would open up the running game by keeping West Virginia honest and preventing them from loading up the box. This could help ASU against a team that is ranked fifth nationally in preventing rushing touchdowns, only allowing nine this season.

Theodore: Everything. His play calling in the Cactus Bowl will give us the best idea as to who if best fit for the starting quarterback position in 2016.

Bafaloukos: I don't expect much to change in terms of how ASU will look. I am interested to see if he will take shots down the field like ASU did towards the end of the season and how Ballage and Richard will be used.

Pelton: The playcalling in the red zone is what intrigues me the most. Mike Norvell never seemed to press the right buttons consistently from inside the 20 this season, so we will see pretty soon if Lindsey can find a fix for the struggles the Sun Devils had there. I'd also like to see some trick plays and more quarterback runs for Mike Bercovici and Manny Wilkins. It is the last game of the season. Empty that playbook.

Other Predictions:

Nacion Bafaloukos Jones Vicario Theodore
Who will win the turnover battle? WVU WVU WVU WVU ASU

Will we see a non-Mike Bercovici ASU quarterback play in the Cactus Bowl?

Yes No No
No No

Will Todd Graham's blitz calls help or hurt ASU this game?

Hurt Help Hurt Hurt Help

Offensive MVP?

Wendell Smallwood Skyler Howard Demario Richard Devin Lucien Lucien

Defensive MVP?

Nick Kwiatkowski Nick Kwiatowski Kwiatkowski Antonio Longino Longino

Who wins?

WVU, 31-27 WVU, 38-34 ASU, 41-38

ASU, 30-27

ASU, 34-24