Week 7 - Arizona State at Colorado

Posted Oct 10, 2012

Week 7 Fearless Predictions - Arizona State at Colorado

Arizona State (4-1) at Colorado (1-4) Oct. 11, 9:00, ESPN

Here's The Deal: After burying Illinois by 31 points in Week 2, Arizona State remained a mystery that no one knew quite what to expect from in 2012. Now that the program has won back-to-back league games by double-digits, it's beginning to look like the biggest of the many Pac-12 surprises that have popped up in the first half of the year. Although he inherited a team with far more questions than answers, head coach Todd Graham has his JUCO-infused Sun Devils thinking that they might be bona fide contenders in the South Division. Colorado, on the other hand, continues to trudge through its long and painful rebuilding process under second-year head coach Jon Embree. The Buffaloes had a moment of clarity three weeks ago, rallying to stun Washington State in Pullman, but promptly returned to form with a four-touchdown loss at home to UCLA. The Buffs will miss the postseason for a fifth straight year, laying the groundwork with younger players that they hope will pay bigger dividends next fall.

Why Arizona State Might Win: What's made the Sun Devils so intriguing is that they haven't displayed any glaring weaknesses, despite playing a decent schedule. They're outscoring opponents by an average of 38-13, ranking first in the Pac-12 in total defense. How is a Colorado team that's last in the league in scoring and 119th nationally in sacks allowed going to move the ball on this Arizona State squad? Graham's staff has the defense playing with maximum pressure and intensity, standing in the top 5 in the country in sacks and tackles for loss. DT Will Sutton is performing like an All-American, helping free up Devil Carl Bradford, Spur Chris Young and DE Junior Onyeali to clean up in the backfield.

Why Colorado Might Win: The Buffaloes will have a hard time sustaining drives against the Sun Devils on Thursday night. But just how many points will they need to deliver a second upset in the last three games? Save for the opener with Northern Arizona, Arizona State has been a little spotty with the ball over the first five games, stalling on third downs and in the red zone. The key for Colorado will be to channel the attack that exploded in the final quarter against Wazzu. When QB Jordan Webb is clicking, he can move this team downfield with help from backs Christian Powell and Tony Jones and receivers Nelson Spruce and Tyler McCulloch.

What To Watch Out For: Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly won't be confused with imposing predecessor Brock Osweiler, but, boy, has the sophomore been effective in his debut as the starter in Tempe. He's been ultra-efficient, especially in the opening quarter, helping to propel his Sun Devils to a fast start. He doesn't make many mistakes, manages games well and along with Michael Eubank gives the team a healthy dose of athleticism from inside the pocket.

What Will Happen: The fact that sputtering Colorado is the host matters little—this is a huge game for Arizona State. A rare primetime national TV audience will afford Graham and standouts, like Sutton and Young, a chance to showcase their progress on a wider than usual scale. While Buffs DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe could cause headaches for the ASU O-line, he alone won't be able to halt a balanced and methodical attack. The Sun Devils D will take care of the rest, remaining salty despite not getting much attention outside of Pac-12 country.

CFN Prediction: Arizona State 36 … Colorado 17
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Arizona State -22.5 O/U: 57
Must Watch Rating (5 – Argo, 1 – Pitch Perfect): 2.5