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Impact: ASU football's ugly win is not up to Pac-12 standards

The Sun Devils need to improve to keep up with Pac-12 powerhouses


ASU senior running back Kalen Ballage (7) makes a touchdown in a game against New Mexico State at the Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017. ASU won 37-31.

The Sun Devils (1-0) were able to secure a win in their home opener against New Mexico State (0-1). However, the game was anything but reassuring for fans.  

Despite a 37-31 victory over the Aggies, ASU struggled to run the football against one of the country’s worst run defenses in 2016.  

In 2016, NMSU gave up at least 153 yards on the ground against opposing teams, and the Sun Devils only managed 79 net rush yards on 40 carries.  

The duo of senior running backs Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard didn’t produce as expected due to Richard going down with a leg injury early in the game.  

Out of the 11 Pac-12 teams that have played so far, ASU ran for the fewest yards. 

Despite a poor performance from the running backs, redshirt junior quarterback Manny Wilkins tore apart the Aggies’ secondary. He completed 81 percent of his passes for 300 yards and two touchdowns.  

Looking forward, ASU needs to make huge improvements on the defensive side of the ball. The secondary intercepted the Aggies quarterback twice, but gave up nearly 400 pass yards. If the Sun Devils do not make big strides defensively they will be embarrassed by Pac-12 quarterbacks.  

Washington’s junior quarterback Jake Browning and California Berkley’s sophomore quarterback Ross Bowers completed 647 pass yards and scored six touchdowns combined.   

Longhorns get pinned 

The Maryland Terrapins (1-0) upset the No. 23 Texas Longhorns (0-1) in Texas on Saturday. Texas’ run defense gave up 263 rush yards and four touchdowns.  

It seemed as if the Longhorns were shocked that the Terrapins came to play, and once the game began it was Texas that looked unranked.

If it weren’t for Texas’ special teams making three massive plays, the Longhorns would have scored less than 30 points against a Terrapin team that was outscored by ranked opponents 149-13 in 2016.

With an upsetting week one loss in the books there is no doubt the Longhorns will soon find themselves on the outside of the top 25. 

Ducks run wild

The Southern Utah Thunderbirds (0-1) were outplayed by the Oregon Ducks (1-0) in Oregon on Saturday.    

In the Ducks' blowout victory (77-21) the team had 348 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns. Oregon had 156 more rush yards than the No. 17 Florida Gators (0-1) had through the air and on the ground in their loss against the No. 11 Michigan Wolverines (1-0).  

On a day where top-25 teams seemingly cruised by their opponents, it was the Ducks who outscored every ranked team, including the No. 5 Clemson Tigers (1-0) and No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners (1-0) who both scored 56 points over the weekend.

Eleven of the 12 Pac-12 teams have played this week. All of them managed to be victorious in their contests. Pac-12 teams scored 472 points and allowed opponents to score 209 points.  

The teams that gave up the most points this week were the Oregon State Beavers (32), the Sun Devils (31) and the No. 4 USC Trojans (31).  

Stay tuned 

Next week, the ASU Sun Devils (1-0) will stay at home and honor Frank Kush against the San Diego State Aztecs (1-0). Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. MST on Saturday, Sept. 9.   

*All statistics were retrieved from and

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