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at Arizona State 48 ... UC Davis 14

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Sep 1, 2011


Week 1 CFN Fearless Prediction - UC Davis at Arizona State

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 1 - UC Davis at Arizona St


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Sept. 1 at Arizona State 48 … UC Davis 14
CFN Analysis: This was exactly what ASU wanted to come out and do to show that yes, this is a veteran team, and yes, this is a new year and a new attitude. From the new-looking helmets to the explosion on both sides of the ball, Arizona State dominated UC Davis and looks more than ready for the next few weeks with Missouri and Illinois up next to make a big statement for the first part of the season. Brock Osweiler was nearly perfect, completing 19-of-26 passes for 262 yards and two scores with a pick, while Vontaze Burfict was breathtaking with three sacks in his limited time. Everything worked and everything clicked, but now the season really starts. Beat Missouri, and then it’ll be truly time to get excited about the possibilities.

(AP) TEMPE, Ariz. -- Brock Osweiler threw two touchdown passes to Aaron Pflugrad before leaving with leg cramps, Cameron Marshall ran for two more scores and Arizona State opened the season with a 48-14 blowout of UC Davis Thursday night.

Arizona State dominated UC Davis from the start, rolling up 517 total yards while holding the FCS Aggies in check until the backups gave up a couple of late scores.

Osweiler was sharp in his first home start, throwing for 262 yards before limping off following a 13-yard touchdown pass to Pflugrad midway through the third quarter.

Marshall scored on a pair of 2-yard runs in the opening quarter to get Arizona State off to fast start and Jamal Miles made it a runaway by opening the second half with a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, giving the Sun Devils some momentum before facing No. 21 Missouri next week.

With new pitchforked logos on their helmets and speed everywhere, Arizona State headed into the season with high expectations. Not the we-can-have-a-winning-record kind, either. The Sun Devils have a legitimate belief they can get to the inaugural Pac-12 Championship, maybe earn a trip to the Rose Bowl.

Coming off three bowl-less seasons, Arizona State returned 20 starters, including high-energy junior Vontaze Burfict, one of the nation's best linebackers, and Osweiler, who played the final two games a year ago.

There were some bumps before the season, though.

Starting cornerback Omar Bolden tore his ACL in spring practice, linebacker Brandon Magee blew out his Achilles' tendon in the preseason and running back Deantre Lewis, the second-leading rusher a year ago, still hasn't returned after being hit in the leg in a random shooting in February.

Even with the losses, the Sun Devils were expected to be among the elite teams in the new Pac-12.

They certainly looked good against UC Davis, racing over the Aggies in a brutally hot night; 104 degrees at kickoff.

Osweiler hit Marshall on a swing pass that went for 47 yards on Arizona State's first play, and Marshall punched it in from 2 yards out two plays later. Time of drive: 62 seconds.

Next drive, set up by Tom Hemmingsen's muffed punt, took 69 seconds, capped by another 2-yard run by Marshall.

Osweiler got his first TD pass of the season on the first play of the second quarter, hitting Pflugrad on a 31-yard post. That drive took a little longer: 77 seconds.

Arizona State's offense bogged down after that, hurt by Rashad Ross' fumble, a turnover on downs and a couple of momentum-killing penalties. Alex Garoutte finished the half off nicely, though, hitting a 49-yard field goal, then Miles took the second-half kickoff for a zigzagging touchdown romp to make it 31-0.

Osweiler tacked on a 13-yard touchdown pass to Pflugrad at the edge of the end zone midway through the third quarter, then limped off with his right leg straightened. He finished 19 of 26 with an interception.

UC Davis fullback Nick Aprile broke up the middle for a 48-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter and Josh Reese added a 1-yarder midway through, but by then it was far too late for the Aggies.

UC Davis (0-0) at Arizona State (0-0) Sept. 1, 10:00
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Here’s The Deal … Arizona State has been heavily hyped throughout the offseason as an up-and-comer and even the Pac-12 South favorite. Starting Thursday night, it gets a chance to go out and back up all of the attention and acclaim. After going just 11-21 versus FBS opponents over the last three seasons, the Sun Devils need to deliver in the worst way. Ditto head coach Dennis Erickson, who’ll begin his fifth season in Tempe in a justifiably precarious position. If his experienced team fails to capitalize in the final year that USC is ineligible for the postseason, it might never get it done. This is the first time since 1940 that UC Davis has played Arizona State. The Aggies didn’t have much success against Pac-10 schools in recent years, falling to Cal, 52-3, in the 2010 opener. However, the Great West Conference contenders, who won their final three games, do return a bunch of all-stars from both sides of the line.

Why UC Davis Might Win: Although the Aggies are a young program, they’re going to benefit from the return of 16 starters. One of those holdovers is QB Randy Wright, last season’s Great West Rookie of the Year. His main objective will be to exploit a suspect Sun Devils secondary that’s still trying to adjust to the devastating season-ending injury to top CB Omar Bolden. The sophomore will be protected by a pair of reigning all-conference performers, T Robert Ayotte and C Ray Wilburn. With Missouri in the on-deck circle, Arizona State is capable of looking past a middling FCS visitor.

Why Arizona State Might Win: The Sun Devils’ biggest advantage will take place closest to the line of scrimmage. There’s stability on the offensive line for a change, with all five starters back from a year ago. That experienced group, led by C Garth Gerhart, should have few problems opening up holes for complimentary backs Cameron Marshall and Deantre Lewis. Arizona State will also be stout on the other side of the ball, pressuring the Aggies all night with a combination of DE Junior Onyeali, DT Will Sutton and premier LB Vontaze Burfict.

What To Watch Out For: When former Sun Devils QB Steven Threet retired following a fourth career concussion, it ended any debate over who’d get the ball from Erickson. The job was the domain of Brock Osweiler, which wasn’t such a bad thing considering how well he played last November. More than any other player in Tempe, the junior holds the key to unlocking all of Arizona State’s potential this fall. As he goes, so go the Devils, which are pining for more consistency and long-ball potential from their quarterbacks.

What Will Happen: For Arizona State, a visit from UC Davis will be little more than a scrimmage and a chance to work out a few wrinkles before Mizzou visits for the first big game of the year. Still, that doesn’t mean that the game won’t have significant value for the hosts. Besides getting some much-needed reps for the second and third-teamers, the Sun Devils will want to generate more confidence for Osweiler and the secondary. This is the last time they’ll be able to treat an opponent like a testing ground for a long time.

CFN Prediction: Arizona State 51 … UC Davis 10
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