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ASU Football Opponent Primer: Colorado Buffaloes

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The Devils have the advantage in the match-up with an 8-1 record against the Buffs.

NCAA Football: Colorado at Arizona State Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona State 2018 Schedule

UTSA (Sept. 1) - Read

Michigan State (Sept. 8) - Read

At San Diego State (Sept. 15) - Read

At Washington (Sept. 22) - Read

Oregon State (Sept. 29) - Read

At Colorado (Oct. 6)

Stanford (Oct. 18)

At USC (Oct. 27)

Utah (Nov. 3)

UCLA (Nov. 10)

At Oregon (Nov. 17)

At Arizona (Nov. 24)

Colorado’s 2017 Season

Colorado had a strong start but miserable finish to their previous season. They swept the non-conference schedule but only secured two wins against the Pac-12 with victories against Oregon State and Cal. Against the Devils last season, ASU defeated CU 41-30 on the fourth of November in Tempe. The Buffaloes finished 5-7 (2-7 Pac-12) and last in the South.

Key Returners

QB Steven Montez - Last year was his first complete season as the Buffs starter. In 2016, he was plagued by injury but helped to get the Buffs to the Alamo Bowl. Though last year’s record doesn’t support, Montez but up some impressive numbers last season with 60.5 percent of passes completed for 2,975 yards and 18 touchdowns. He is also on the watchlist for the Walter Camp and Maxwell awards. The junior looks to remain focused and push Colorado up in the conference standings, though predicted to finish just above ASU in the south.

K James Stefanou and P Alex Kinney - Yes, I did just pick special teams players but they are highly touted coming into the 2018 season. Stefanou as a freshman was a semi-finalist for the Lou Groza award for best kicker - a distinction earned by Zane Gonzalez in 2016 - and named a first-team freshman All-American by ESPN.com. He was 17-22 on field goals and perfect on extra points. He is on the watch list for the Groza award once again.

Kinney enters his senior season with the school record for most punts downed inside the 20-yard line with 28 last season. He averaged 43.8 yards per punt last season and his longest went 70 yards against Texas State. He is on the watch list for the Ray Guy Award for most outstanding punter.

Key Departures

RB Phillip Lindsay - Last year’s captain has now graduated and signed to the Denver Broncos. Last season, he finished ninth overall among Division I FBS players with 1,474 rushing yards. He was a semifinalist for the Doak Walker award. Last year against the Devils, Lindsay rushed for 80 yards on 23 attempts with two touchdowns. He also caught one pass for 60 yards.

DB Isaiah Oliver - A Brophy Prep graduate, Oliver played three seasons for the Buffs, forgoing his senior year to enter the draft. He was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the second round of this past year’s draft. Oliver recorded 26 tackles and two interceptions last season. He did not record any statistics against ASU last season.

Why ASU has the edge

The Devils have the advantage in the lifetime match-up with and 8-1 record, However the Buffaloes took down ASU pretty handily in 2016 to begin ASU’s six-game losing streak to close out the season. ASU has a stronger offense led by Manny Wilkins and N’Keal Harry, and the defense, though under a new coaching staff, has proven to hold against Montez before.

Why ASU is at a disadvantage

Sometimes a game comes down to the leg of the kicker, and Colorado’s special teams is deadly. The majority of CU’s coaching staff has also been retained which means less change coming into this season, much less than ASU has had to endure the past few months. This game could be low scoring and come down to which kicker is going to make more field goals: Stefanou? or Brandon Ruiz?