5. Texas Tech @ Arizona State 9/10
Tech is already getting a challenging opponent in Week 2 against a good Pac-12 Conference team. ASU finished 6-7 (4-5 in the Pac-12) last season including a 43-42 loss in the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl vs. West Virginia. ASU is losing some talent from last year's team. Their QB and leading passer Mike Bercovici graduated and their leading receiver Devin Lucien was drafted by the New England Patriots. However, their leading rusher from last year Demario Richard is returning after rushing for over 1,000 yards last season. The Sun Devil's defense last season was not all that impressive. They gave up 463 yard per game putting them at 114 in the country. Even more in Tech's favor, ASU gave up 337 passing yards per game.
The biggest attraction is this is the Sun Devils first matchup against Tech since the 2013 Holiday Bowl. Tech upset #14 Arizona State 37-23 giving Kliff Kingsbury a bowl victory in his first season. While it seems ASU has taken a step back in terms of being an elite Pac-12 team, this should be a pretty exciting game. Both defenses last season were ranked near the bottom of the nation but the teams' total offenses were ranked in top 25.
The Sun Devils were ranked 24th in total yards per game while Tech was ranked 4th in the country in total yards. That was largely due to the breakout season of Patrick Mahomes in which he ended up being 4th in the nation in passing. Under Todd Graham the Sun Devils run a spread offense while Tech runs the air raid. I feel this game could definitely turn into a shootout since both teams' defenses were not stellar last year while their offenses were. I expect more of the same in 2016.
The biggest thing most will talk about once this game looms is the fact that Arizona State is looking for revenge for what happened in 2013. It was clear from Tech's opening drive of that bowl game they were not going to be phased by ASU's talent nor the fact they were the 14th best team in the country. There were times the Sun Devils came back to make it competitive but the biggest play that broke it open for Tech was when returner Reginald Davis took a kickoff after an ASU score all the way back for a touchdown. That lead to a Justis Nelson interception to ice the game. That being said, I believe Tech has a good chance to beat ASU again.
ASU's offense is losing firepower, even though they were not as potent an offense as Tech was last season, and their defense does not seem capable of stopping a high-powered offense like Tech's. ASU will have a hard time keeping up if Tech jumps on them early or if their defense can stop ASU a few times.
Can history repeat itself this coming season? We'll find out in September.