What: San Diego State Aztecs at Arizona State University Sun Devils
When: Saturday, September 9, 8 p.m.
TV: Pac-12 Network
Line: ASU -4
Arizona’s not even a state! Oh, it is?
This week, Rocky Long loads up the Airstream and takes the team out on a weekend of hunting bighorn sheep in the desert that will turn into a dangerous game of survival to Tempe, Ariz., to take on Power Five opponent Arizona State. San Diego State has NEVER defeated Arizona State (0-10-1 all time), a point we should continue to make through Saturday. It’s one of those things that’s kind of fun when you finally break the streak, and something to definitely ignore should Aztec fortunes continue in similar fashion.
OF NOTE: Last week, both SDSU and ASU defeated teams named “Aggies”, which is what you call your team when “Wildcats” would be considered too garish. What a fun coincidence, right!? In both games, the Aggies made the games look a little closer than they actually were with late scores vs. backup defenders.
Arizona State mascot “Sparky” (artist’s rendering)
Why should we be scared of them?
There’s not a ton that really jumps off the page for Arizona State, with 2016 bringing a mid-tier offense and one of the worst defenses in FBS. However, that mid-tier offense is capable of putting up some passing yards. With a team that has, at times, found that to be a bit of an achilles heel (depending on personnel), this is where fans should focus their attention.
Also, Power Five. Worthington’s law, and all that.
Do they have anyone worth watching?
Senior linebackers DJ Calhoun and Koron Crump could be huge pains in the Aztecs’ collective asses. Calhoun led the Sun Devils in tackles last season, Crump led the team in sacks last season and both continued that trend in Week 1 vs. New Mexico State. Junior linebacker Christian Sam was the second-leading tackler in 2015, but missed all but one quarter of one game during the 2016 season. He made an impact on last week’s game, with 8 tackles. Considering ASU’s shaky secondary, these guys are probably key to them coming out of this with a win.
Why should we hate them?
Growing up, there were fluff stories on the local news about how much we hate “Zonies”, who flood into San Diego during the summer months and crowd our beaches, etc. I don’t think we should hate people for bringing in tourism dollars, so I’m going with a much more mature angle.
San Diego’s greatest export outside of stadium renderings, press releases and statements related to stadium renderings/issues, and Instagram photos of thermostats reading 88 degrees in January is sports bitterness. It’s in our blood. It’s what we know. We’ve never beaten ASU and FUCK THEM FOR THAT. Lean into it.
(I need better reasons than pettiness)
Do they have any famous alumni we can make fun of?
“Look children, it’s a falling star. Make a wish!”
– David Spade
Will we beat them?
Yeah, I think the Aztecs win this one, 31-24. It’s a Pac-12 opponent on the road, it’s going to be hot as shit … but ASU’s secondary is not good. If ASU’s offense can control the tempo and repeat last week’s performance (where they did not turn the ball over), combined with at least a respectable showing on defense, this becomes a much tougher game. They are understandably favorites, all things considered … but I think San Diego State’s superior defense and running game gives them the edge.