Thursday, 5 September 2013

The Roundup: Spetember 5

About Tonight:

Sacramento State at Arizona State, 7:00 PM on Pac-12 Network. Line: Arizona State (-37.5)

The mighty Hornets of Sac State will look to defeat a Pac-12 team on the road for the third year in a row as ASU kicks off its season tonight in Tempe. While it is true that the Hornets have managed to pull off a win over Pac-12 teams it's worth mentioning that those teams were 2011 Oregon State and 2012 Colorado, two teams that combined to go 4-20. This Sun Devils team is just a little different from those two outfits.

The Sun Devils return a lot of top talent on both sides of the ball. The offense will be led one of the most efficient passers in the nation in Taylor Kelly and a dynamic combo of tailbacks in Marion Grice and D.J. Foster. The focal point of the Sun Devils will be the defense though, led by All-American defensive tackle Will Sutton and dynamic edge rusher Carl Bradford who combined for 45 tackles for loss last year. The second and third levels of ASU's defense should be strong also as All-Pac-12 safety Alden Darby returns along with one of the Pac-12 most underrated players, cornerback Osahon Irabor to lead the secondary. Senior Chris Young (83 tackles, 14 for loss last year) will help Bradford lead the linebackers. Young was more a of a hybrid safety last season but I expect him to be more of a true linebacker in an effort to replace the departed Brandon Magee.

There will be some holes in ASU's defense because there always are but I'm curious to see if any chinks in the armor start to show tonight ahead of ASU's huge home game against Wisconsin next week. Offensively, I'm really excited to see wide receiver Jaelen Strong. I don't know too much about him other than he was one of the top junior college recruits in the nation last year. He has earned one of the starting spots at WR and he has been drawing rave reviews all throughout spring and fall camp from media and coaches alike. Some have gone so far to say that Strong will have a bigger impact as a JC transfer this year than Marion Grice did last year.

This is the first of four games between Pac-12 and FCS opponents this weekend. Typically you snooze through these games because the FCS teams don't stand a chance. I will confess I'll probably be only half watching this one while having most of my attention fixed on the NFL kickoff game between the Ravens and Broncos. That being said, while Sac State isn't quite as horrendous as Nicholls State it isn't Eastern Washington either. The Hornets were a half decent 6-5 team a year ago but are replacing a lot of key players and were just crushed 24-0 by San Jose State last week. SJSU is a very good team but they don't have the type of unhinged animals on defense that ASU does. The spread is pretty big but I just don't see how the Hornets are going to score touchdowns and I think ASU has enough weapons to move the ball all night against the Hornets defense that has actually shown itself to be relatively competent. I'll take the Sun Devils despite the big spread, 49-6.

Record against the spread this season: 5-5

Record straight up this season: 7-3

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