Game Preview: Arizona State at Aztecs

Reimagined still from the web documentary ‘Washington’

Football game
Who: No. 23 Arizona State Sun Devils at San Diego State Aztecs
 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: SDCCU Stadium
TV: CBS Sports Network
Line: Arizona State -5

The Stakes
Last chance for the Aztecs to get a non-conference Power Five win and avoid falling off the radar with a 1-2 start.

The Opponent
Saturday’s game is the back half of a home-and-home with brethren state school ASU. Rashaad Penny and the Aztecs steamrolled the Sun Devils in Tempe 30-20 a year ago.

This isn’t last year’s mediocre Sun Devils. Arizona State fired the guy who led them to 6, 5 and 7 wins the past three seasons and hired former SDSU and NFL great Herm Edwards, a move widely deemed a head-scratcher but undergoing reassessment after ASU’s upset of ranked Michigan State.

Herm doesn’t need much introduction. He scored the touchdown in the Miracle at the Meadowlands. He knows you play to win the game. It’ll be weird seeing him on the opposing sideline of an Aztecs game after all his years coaching in the NFL and the last decade of being his gregarious, slightly wacky self on ESPN.

Edwards used his familiarity with old alma mater to hire away the Aztecs’ defensive coordinator. Danny Gonzales goes a long way back with Rocky, which would seem to give ASU a strategic edge. SDSU’s offense is facing a more talented version of its own defense.*

Herm on his SDSU days this week:

“We had a good team,” Edwards said. “It was a haven for all guys. A lot of professional defensive backs came out of San Diego State. When I came in the league in 1977, there were 13 defensive backs in the NFL out of San Diego State. That was the place to go. I have a lot of respect for that program because I know what that program means to a lot of guys.”

However, he preferred San Diego State’s look back in the day. “I told Danny (Gonzales), you guys messed up those uniforms. They used to be all black with the red hats. Things change, I get it. I’m not trying to be the uniform guy.”

Thumbs up for the classic uni from Herm (44) and the ’76 Tecs. via

I am trying to be the uniform guy, and Herm is right as rain.

*For a granular look at how ASU and other teams are adopting Rocky’s 3-3-5 defense, see this post “The rise of the Aztec empire” on SB Nation.

ASU leads the all-time series 4-1 dating back to 2000.

Arizona State was a founding member of the WAC before joining the Pac-10 in 1978. San Diego State — an independent coming off consecutive 10-1 seasons — replaced them in the WAC.

Other Factors
Ryan Agnew makes his first career start at quarterback for the Aztecs and starting DT Noble Hall is out with an injury. Next man up, as they say, thrown right into the fire against a Pac-12 team with revenge on its mind.

Like other Pac schools that aren’t WSU or Oregon State, ASU has bigger and faster athletes than SDSU, notably 6’4″, 213-pound receiver N’Keal Harry.

The Sun Devils come in with upset swagger while the Aztecs limp in off an FCS near miss.

It’s a blackout game so wear black on black if you’re coming to STADIUM. And if someone could snag me one of these scarves (with a lot of red in them!) because I never get in that early, that’d be nice.

No word at press time on if another literal blackout will uh, randomly occur during the game because someone hit the dimmer switch.

Film Study
Last name a first name Harry is a bit of a nightmare.

The guy got away with a pretty obvious pushoff on his game-tying touchdown last week, as good players tend to do.



AttemptedChem @attemptedchem
A list of things going against the Aztecs this Saturday: The QB is hurt. The best defensive player is hurt. The opposing defensive coordinator had the same job at SDSU last year and knows exactly what they’re going to do on both sides of the ball.

What is going in favor of the Aztecs: My best friend, an ASU grad, scheduled his wedding for this Saturday. Thus, I will be missing the game to serve as his best man. This is a bold and terrible act by him and the kind of sports karma that merits a hearty smiting. Do what’s right, ye cruel and vengeful sports Gods.

The sports Gods will not do what’s right. They rarely do.
Arizona State 21, SDSU 13

Advisory Columnist @EgosAndDespair
Lightweight defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales, a total flunky for Herm Edwards and someone who would come to Coach Long’s office “begging” for the opportunity to call plays not so long ago (and would do anything for them) is now in the ring fighting against San Diego State. Very disloyal to Rocky and “Frolf” Wicker — USED!

ASU has looked good and I am scared without Chapman and especially Hall. Arizona State 22, SDSU 16

AztecsKillingHim @akh_blog
Remember when we all thought the Aztecs and their senior QB would roll past Arizona State’s mismanaged, sun-bleached skeleton of a program? About that …
Arizona State 27, SDSU 16

lemonverbena @kabeerthirty
The Devils are a tough matchup for the Tecs and this objectively looks like a loss. But I really don’t want to see SDSU fall to 1-2. Sure, ASU got a big win last week, at home, on a last-second field goal in a low scoring game. If Agnew emerges from his clipboard chrysalis as a golden god, Juwan Washington goes beast mode and Lord Baron kicks some epic field goals we can win this motherfucker, seriously.
SDSU 27, Arizona State 24

Consensus: Three of us pick ASU, one bravely picks SDSU in an upset.

Author: lemonverbena

Californian/Washingtonian, co-editor of Kabeer Thirty.


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