Taking care of business
I never bought into the theory that San Diego State should be a so-called trap game for Arizona State.
Not with ASU defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales and defensive backs coach Tony White less than a year removed from coaching the Aztecs and head coach Herm Edwards having played at San Diego State.
But coaches knowing what to expect and players believing it are two different things.
The Sun Devils, then 2-0, had no reason to take the Aztecs, a consistent winner that beat ASU GET in 2017, for granted. Certainly not based off a 16-13 win over Michigan State or its experience level in Gonzales’ 3-3-5 system compared to San Diego State’s decade running the same defense.
All of which is worth bringing up because ASU is on a two-game win streak for the first time since then and doesn’t want the same outcome, a 28-21 loss to the Aztecs that wasn’t as close as the final score suggests.
ASU coaches believe the Sun Devils are better positioned to handle success now. “We didn’t know who we were then,” offensive coordinator Rob Likens said. “Players were feeling the coaches out, coaches are feeling the players out, Herm is kind of looking around, this is how we act on the road. Now we’re all kind of comfortable with each other that we know each other.”
Last week you’ll recall, I said it would take a genuine upset for ASU to beat Utah. To the Sun Devils credit, they pulled that off with a bit of help from the collarbone injury that took out Utes’ quarterback Tyler Huntley late in the third quarter.
Today is the reverse. ASU is a 13 ½-point favorite and has no business losing to 2-7 UCLA with all that’s at stake. It’s about taking care of business on Senior Day and avoiding an upset, something the Sun Devils are much more prepared to do than in week 3.
My pick: ASU 38, UCLA 21.
ASU football looks to keep rolling as the Sun Devils host UCLA on Saturday at noon. Follow along with this page for live updates throughout the game.
UCLA at ASU
Where: Sun Devil Stadium.