Following their third win of the season, Herm Edwards’ Arizona State Sun Devils head to Boulder, Colorado for their matchup with the No. 21 Colorado Buffaloes Saturday afternoon. CU is undefeated through four games and have been one of the biggest surprises of college football in the early going.
Getting back on track
Colorado won the Pac-12 South in 2016, and followed up with a disappointing performance that saw them finish 5-7 and dead last in the division.
Head coach Mike MacIntyre’s team is back on track through the early going, and opened conference play with a home win over UCLA last Saturday. ASU will pose the toughest challenge to Colorado early in the season, as there previous four opponents have combined for a record of 1-15.
Arizona State offensive coordinator Rob Likens is very familiar with MacIntyre, and knows that the Sun Devils will have their hands full with the Buffaloes.
“We coached together at Temple, I’ve been around him a long time,” said Likens. “I know we’re going to get a team that’s very well coached, very well schooled on defending what we’ve put on film already.”
What CU has done well so-far has devised a well-balanced offense to combine with a stingy, physical defense.
Three-headed monster on offense
Arizona State’s defense has taken a step back after putting together two strong games to open the season, with notable struggles against San Diego State and Oregon State.
Colorado will see how other teams have been able to run the ball against the Sun Devils, enter senior running back Travon McMillian.
McMillian has been a menace on the ground for CU this season, as he’s rushed for 400 yards and four touchdowns to begin the season.
Not to be outdone, the Buffs passing game isn’t too shabby either. Junior quarterback Steven Montez is healthy and now has full control of the offense, he also has a pretty nice receiving target on the outside that gets comparisons to N’Keal Harry.
Sophomore wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. has put his name on the college football this season. He’s a big, strong target for Montez and he’s been taking opposing to quarterbacks all season, this matchup will pose another challenge for ASU cornerback Chase Lucas. Shelnaut Jr. has caught 38 passes for 581 yards and four touchdowns this season.
A big, physical secondary
Arizona State has struggled to get the passing game going in their last three games. A trip to a chilly, wet Folsom Field doesn’t appear likely to reverse the Sun Devil fortunes.
Making matters more difficult, the Colorado secondary features two strong, physical cornerbacks that could pose problems for Harry, Kyle Williams and company.
Cornerbacks Delrick Abrams Jr. and Nick Fisher are both at least 6 feet tall and will be able to matchup well with the Sun Devil receivers. Given ASU’s recent success running the football, expect the Colorado defense to try and get the Sun Devil offense to take some shots down the field in the passing game.