Arizona State travels 470 miles northwest to face BYU in Provo, Utah, on Saturday night, and Arizona sportsbooks have the Sun Devils as slight favorites.
It’ll be Arizona State’s staunchest test of the young college football season, after ASU shellacked Southern Utah and UNLV by a combined score of 78-24 in its first two games.
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It’s the second ASU game since sports betting in Arizona launched on Sept. 9, pitting two undefeated teams against each other.
The ballgame will kick off from Lavell Edwards Stadium at 7:15 p.m. Arizona time (8:15 p.m. in Provo) Saturday, with ESPN carrying it nationally.
The hometown Cougars opened the season with commanding wins over Pac-12 stalwarts, Arizona (24-16) and Utah (26-17).
A large part of BYU’s success in those games was the play of sophomore QB Jaren Hall, who has thrown for 347 yards and five touchdowns (to zero interceptions) this year.
Hall posted a career-high 92 yards on the ground in Saturday’s win over the Utes, averaging 11.5 yards per carry in the process.
Fellow sophomore Tyler Allgeier joins Hall in the backfield, with the former averaging a solid 4.5 yards per carry this season.
Allgeier finished Saturday’s victory over Utah in the "Holy War" rivalry with 102 yards on 27 carries, a week after racking up 94 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown against the Wildcats.
The dynamic sophomore duo will look to propel BYU to its first victory over ASU since 1995 come Saturday night.
First Test for the Sun Devils
Arizona State’s fast start this season has been tempered by the lack of quality competition its faced to date.
The Sun Devils’ demolition of a Football Championship Subdivision squad (Southern Utah) and a Mountain West cellar-dweller (UNLV) means we haven’t seen how the team responds to true adversity.
We’ll know a lot more come Saturday, when junior QB Jayden Daniels and his teammates take the field.
Daniels has excelled so far this year, throwing for 307 yards and two scores, while posting 165 yards on the ground for the Sun Devils.
The junior will look to one-up his fantastic freshman season, when Daniels threw for 2,943 yards and 17 touchdowns (to two interceptions), guiding the Sun Devils to a win in the Sun Bowl.
He’ll be tasked with succeeding against a BYU pass rush that has held opponents to 383 yards per game this season, while picking up a half-dozen sacks in those contests.
One way or another, either the Cougars or Sun Devils will earn a win in the first showdown between the two schools in the 21st century come Saturday night.
The teams’ last showdown was a 26-6 win by the Cougars in Provo on Sept. 12, 1998 — knocking the Sun Devils from 14th in the nation to being unranked.
The Sun Devils never recovered from there, finishing the year 5-6 and missing out on the postseason for the first time since 1994 in the process.
Whether this year’s ASU squad is in for a similar fall from grace is yet to be seen, though we’ll know much more about the Sun Devils’ fate once the ball kicks off in the foothills of the Wasatch Range on Saturday night.