ASU Week 5 Preview: Arizona State at California

Arizona State (3-1) at California (3-1).

Pac-12 play for the Devils continues on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, California.  The Devils will take on the California Golden Bears in a contest that could have national ranking implications for ASU.

Famous last words.  When I said this two weeks ago it ended in a Sun Devil loss.  But the Devils proved resilient to defeat, trouncing Utah at home last weekend.  The road factor is looking like one of the most significant variables in this game, second only to the fact that ASU hasn’t beaten Cal on the road in 15 years.

Cal, however, is coming in 1-3 and hot off two consecutive losses to Top 25 teams (Ohio State and USC, respectively).  Leading Cal’s offense is senior Zach Maynard, and he has a star wide receiver in his teammate and half-brother Keenan Allen.  The burden of scrutiny belongs to Cal for this game, as a loss at home against the Devils would likely be the swan song of their season (and possibly head coach Jeff Tedford’s job)

In their continued campaign to upend expectations, ASU has spent the last week preparing to face an away game against a Bears team who might be better than their record indicates.  The equity in the rushing talent of ASU is one of their strengths, as they don’t have one player who the Cal defense can target.  With regard to their receiving corps, ASU may show some changes; a freshman receiver who hasn’t yet seen game time has been talking as though he’s guaranteed to play on Saturday.  Currently tied with Tulsa for the most tackles for losses in the country (39 over four games), this game will mark the first time this season the ASU defense goes against the first string quarterback.

Taylor Kelly, named Pac-12 player of the week, has the opportunity to continue the success he’s earned with a road win on a national stage (and against a much maligned-ASU foe).  Having earned the respect of his teammates and fan base alike, he’s carrying a lot of responsibility into Memorial Stadium.  Perhaps the stoicism I saw in him before the start of the season wasn’t a lack of swagger after all, it might’ve been the maturity and silent intensity that will allow this year’s Sun Devil team to keep dialing up the ‘wow’ factor.

Game time is 4:00 p.m. ET and ASU fans can tune in to FX to watch the action.

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