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ASU Football: First look at No. 21 Fresno State

The Bulldogs present a serious challenge to ASU.

NCAA Football: Fresno State at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

It’s finally bowl season Sun Devil fans, and Arizona State will finish the 2018 season Saturday afternoon against the No. 21 Fresno State Bulldogs.

FSU is coming a very impressive regular season where they finished 11-2 and 7-1 in the Mountain West Conference. The Bulldogs do a lot of things well, and will present a strong challenge to ASU’s hopes of finishing the season 8-5.

The Sun Devil coaching staff has showered Fresno State with praise since the matchup was announced earlier this month.

Let’s look at what makes the Bulldogs click:

Great quarterback play:

While the Sun Devils faced many good running backs this season, the overall quality of QB play in the Pac-12 was subpar.

The same can’t be said about FSU’s senior quarterback Marcus McMaryion.

He transferred from Oregon State to his hometown team for his final collegiate season, and he’s been phenomenal leading the Bulldog offense.

McMaryion has thrown for 3,453 yards and 25 touchdowns this season, while also only throwing three interceptions.

Fresno State will look to throw the ball a lot against ASU’s defense, which has struggled at times against good quarterbacks including Oregon’s Justin Herbert and Arizona’s Khalil Tate.

Big play receiver:

The Bulldogs use a tandem of sophomores Ronnie Rivers and Jordan Mims for their rushing attack, but neither have put up especially strong statistics.

That’s not the case for senior wide receiver Kesean Johnson.

Johnson, has been the No. 1 target for McMaryion in their only season together as teammates. Catching 93 passes for 1,307 yards and eight touchdowns he’s been the catalyst for an offense that dominated throughout the season.

ASU’s cornerbacks Chase Lucas and Kobe Williams will need to be on their game when defending Johnson.

A highly effective defense:

You don’t come one win away from breaking the single-season win record without a good defense.

And according to the ASU coaching staff, this could be the best defense they face all season.

“Statistically, this is the best defense we’ve faced all season,” said ASU offensive coordinator Rob Likens. “They’re athletic, they’re long and their middle linebacker is a Sunday player.”

The player Likens is referring to is junior Jeff Allison, who leads the Bulldogs in tackles and does a little bit of everything for the defense.

While Allison has only recorded 0.5 a sack, he does have two interceptions and isn’t afraid to drop into coverage.