The Arizona State Sun Devils have come out of the gate firing on all cylinders early into the 2012 season. Through their first pair of games, they’re performing much better than anyone expected.
Granted, one of those games was against Northern Arizona and another was against an Illinois Fighting Illini team that was without their starting quarterback. But it’s hard to ignore how strong and disciplined this team has looked on both sides of the ball in the early going.
But, as the saying goes, that was then, this is now. The Devils hit the road for the first time under Todd Graham, and they head into SEC country for their Saturday tilt against the Mizzou Tigers.
Last year saw the first meeting between these two squads in this new series. It really was an ugly affair as the Sun Devils unveiled their new black uniforms and hosted the big black out. Incredibly stupid penalties, which were not uncommon under Dennis Erickson, plagued the Devils all game, but they still managed to escape, thanks to some great play from Brock Osweiler, who threw the game-winning touchdown toss in overtime.
This year it’s different. This ASU team isn’t as talented overall, though you wouldn’t have known it in their first two games. And it’s their first road game under Coach Graham. That by itself makes this a huge game for the Devils.
Mizzou is coming off of a game in which they were smoked in their SEC opener against the Georgia Bulldogs. You know they’re going to come out firing after that, and James Franklin is looking for a bit of redemption after nearly leading the Tigers to best Arizona State in Tempe last season.
Just like with Illinois, the Sun Devils will be facing what they expect to be a top 20 defense. Playing on the road against an SEC defense presents a new challenge for this green ASU offense. If they want to prove that they are as legit as they’ve looked in the first two games, on the road against an SEC defense is probably the way to do it.
This game really is something of a wild card. Through two games, it’s hard to tell a great deal about either team. But you have to like ASU’s chances in this one. They are on the road, but their confidence level is sky-high, and their offense has been firing on all cylinders. Yes, the opposing defense presents a new type of challenge, but this team has already surprised us two weeks in a row. Why not a third?
If the offense comes out as balances as it has been in the first two, they get solid running from Cameron Marshall, D.J. Foster, and friends, and Taylor Kelly and Michael Eubank provide as solid quarterback play as they’ve been turning in, as well as some Chris Coyle action, I like the Sun Devils’ chances in this one.