Driving back from Phoenix this morning from work, I turned on the good ol’ local sports radio, and boy are the fans up in Tempe high on the Arizona State Sun Devils. Real high. I mean, the let’s-go-rip-a-bong-all-afternoon-in-the-dorm-room-and-get-delusional type of high (Quite frankly, it reminded me a little about how Arizona Wildcat fans acted heading into their game against Oregon). With a 5-1 record, Arizona State and its faithful truly believe they have a chance of knocking out #2 Oregon tonight. Not a shot in the dark type of chance, but a real one.
It got so bad (they were interviewing Brock Osweiler about his breakdown of the game…) that I had to turn to a national radio talk show, ESPN, only to find out the guys over on the east coast are suggesting the same potential upset (but then I remembered that 1. they are from the east coast and know nothing about west coast sports and 2. they are the ones broadcasting the game tonight, so it only figures that they would hype it up). I had to turn off the radio all together and sit silently in my car for an hour and a half.
The argument goes something like this: Arizona State is 5-1, they rank 17th nationally in points scored (40.5) and 9th nationally in points against (14.2). The Devils’ defense has a real chance of making things hard for the Ducks because Oregon has not played anyone that tough yet. One broadcaster noted that Oregon’s opponents have a combined record of only 18-21 this year.
I suggest Arizona State look themselves in the mirror before accusing another team of playing cupcakes: Arizona State’s opponents have a combined record of 14-25–their is a reason the Devils are 5-1 and not yet ranked.
As for ASU’s defense, the Devil’s NCAA Division I opponents (I do not count NAU) have scored a combined average of 23 points per game, a number that would rank around 94th nationally. In other words, Arizona State’s defense has not yet had to stop what I would call anything close to a powerhouse offense–not one offense ASU has faced ranks in the top 50.
Same goes for ASU’s offense. Their opponents have given up a combined average of 29.5 points per game, which would rank around 77th nationally. Again, not one defense ASU has faced ranks in the top 50. The only thing the Devils have seen that remotely suggest legitimacy is California’s rushing offense (38th nationally).
The bottom line is that while anything can happen (College football is sometimes a magical thing, that is why we watch it) ASU will most likely get a rude awakening tonight when Oregon hits Sun Devil Stadium running and never looks back. The Devils will then–Like Arizona did when it fell to Oregon–realize that it has a ton of work to do before consecutively facing UCLA, Oregon State and USC.