ASU(2-5) gets its most favorable conference matchup yet against 1-6 Colorado. The Buffaloes have had a horrible year so far as all of their losses have been in the double-digits.
This week is a get-right opportunity for ASU. The team suffered a loss against the Stanford Cardinal last Saturday, losing 15-14 as all of Stanford's points came from field goals. It was also the Cardinal's first Pac-12 conference win since October 2, 2021.
"We can just control what we can control," graduate student running back Xazavian Valladay said. "The loss left a bad taste in our mouths, but we're just working one day at a time."
Colorado fired its head coach Karl Dorrell earlier this year after a 0-5 start. The Buffaloes gave the reigns to their offensive coordinator Mike Sanford in a similar situation to ASU with interim head coach Shaun Aguano coming in after the loss to Eastern Michigan earlier this season.
"I've known coach Sanford for a while," Aguano said. "They’re trying to get it together over there, similar to how we are trying over here."
Colorado statistically has the conference's worst offense and defense. Colorado is averaging 13.7 points per game and having only 286.1 yards a game on offense, both last in the conference. Defensively, the team allows 38.7 points and lets up 473.3 yards per game. ASU is allowing 407 yards a game and 28 points.
"I'm anxious to see what happens this week," Sanford said. "I would anticipate that there's going to be some changes from them after their loss to Stanford, and we'll be ready for them."
The Buffaloes' lackluster offense is led by true freshman quarterback Owen McCown, former NFL quarterback Josh McCown's son. However, McCown was hurt for last week's game and doesn't appear set to return this week. This allows sophomore J.T. Shrout to likely make his second consecutive start.
Shrout struggled last week in Colorado's 42-9 loss to the Beavers, throwing for 206 passing yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns.
ASU has its fair share of quarterback problems as well. Last week, redshirt junior quarterback Emory Jones passed for 227 yards with a touchdown and interception. Nevertheless, the Sun Devils failed to score a single point in the second half after taking an 8-point lead going into halftime, costing them the game.
"I might not name the starter until I figure it out on Friday," Aguano said. "Whoever I go with, I'll have full confidence that they’re going to win the football game."
Almost three weeks ago, redshirt junior quarterback Trenton Bourguet, the backup for ASU, showed out with three touchdowns and 182 passing yards against Washington after coming in for an injured Jones. Since then, many questions have revolved around who will start at the position.
While the quarterback position is in question for ASU, the running game has been more than consistent all year, with Valladay leading the charge with the third most rushing yards in the Pac-12 with 642 and is tied for first in rushing touchdowns with seven.
"You just got to be able to execute when it comes down to game time," Valladay said. "We have a lot of athletes that can get into one-on-one situations and make people miss, which can spring big-play opportunities."
ASU goes into Boulder, Colorado as a 13.5-point favorite — its most significant margin since the team was favored by 20.5 points against Eastern Michigan a month ago, a game the Sun Devils lost by nine. Next week, ASU returns home to take on a 6-1 No.12 UCLA.
Edited by Walker Smith, David Rodish and Luke Chatham.
Vincent Deangelis is a full-time reporter for the sports department at The State Press. He has previously worked for Arizona PBS and AZPreps365.com.