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ASU Football: Michigan State Players to Watch

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Revenge is a dish best served cold

NCAA Football: Western Michigan at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

After winning a 19-7 clunker of a game last Friday against Sacramento State, ASU (2-0) is hitting the road for the first time this season as it takes on Michigan State (2-0) in East Lansing this Saturday.

After losing to the Devils in Tempe on “black-out” night last season, the Spartans are thirsty for revenge this time around. Sparty no doubt smells blood in the water after Arizona State’s disappointing showing against Sacramento State. These are the opposing players to be wary of Saturday afternoon:

Freshman running back Elijah Collins - Collins burned Western Michigan last weekend, rushing for 192 yards on 17 attempts (11.3 yards per carry). His 209 rush yards going into week three are third best in the Big Ten. Only Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins (232 rush yards) and Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor (237 yards) have more.

Collins has yet to find pay dirt this year, but he’ll be looking to change that against ASU. The Sun Devil defense is only giving up 81 rushing yards per game so far this season (2nd in the Pac-12). A Michigan State squad that can run is a scary thought, so it will be up to Danny Gonzales’ defenders to shut Collins and company down.

Senior wide receiver Darrell Stewart Jr. - Quarterback Brian Lewerke’s favorite target heading into week three, Stewart is currently number ten in the nation in terms of receiving yards. His 16 grabs this season have translated to 241 reception yards (15.1 yards per catch). The senior has one touchdown snag on the year as well. Lewerke mixes it up when airing it out, but he obviously enjoys throwing to Stuart the most. The ASU defense will need to keep Stewart at bay if they hope to put up a fight Saturday.

Senior defensive end Kenny Willekes - The 2018 Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year is off to another hot start. Willekes ranks second on the team with 12 total tackles, and leads the defense in both sacks (3.5) and tackles for loss (4.5). Michigan State’s defense is usually one of the most formidable in the Big Ten, and this year looks to be no exception.

With ASU’s offensive line banged up at the moment, the Spartans look to put a lot of pressure on freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels. Of course, the injured offensive line hurts junior running back Eno Benjamin as well. Look for Willekes to be right in the thick of things over the course of Saturday’s game.

Undoubtedly, Arizona State’s toughest early test of the year up to this point. Saturday’s game kicks off at 1:00 PM MT on FOX.