Going into the Arizona State game, there seems to be a resounding sense among the fan base of “let’s wait until we play Arizona State.” Last season we went into the game in Tempe feeling pretty good about the team until the defense let Kalen Ballage score eight touchdowns. The game became a precursor of what to expect from the 2016 Red Raider team. This year we are much more hesitant to get excited about a team that has been prone to ripping our hearts out as of late. The only problem with the notion of “let’s wait till Arizona State,” is that Arizona State isn’t any good.
Arizona State is very similar to Texas Tech in a lot of ways. Both teams have a bad recent history of very porous defense, Arizona State’s defense gave up 50 points to their opposing offense four times last season. ASU’s head coach, Todd Graham, is on an even hotter coaching seat than Kingsbury, and their fan base also seems to be fairly pessimistic (realistic?) about their team.
However, unlike Tech, Arizona State hasn’t given their fan base anything to cheer about. The Sun Devils have lost 8 of their last 10 football contests. They started this season beating New Mexico State 37-31, and though the game was much more in Arizona State’s favor as the final score indicates, it must be troubling how long it took the offense to get going. It was a one-point lead at halftime as the offense only was able to muster two touchdowns up to that point. Up until late in the fourth quarter, the defense was actually the shining light of the team until three touchdowns were given up late in the game.
The following week against San Diego State, the offense was stifled once again only putting up one touchdown in the second half. Defense didn’t have enough juice in this game as SDSU gave Arizona State their first loss of the season. San Diego State is a quality team, and there’s no shame in losing to them, but to lose to a Group of 5 opponent at home and that opponent to have control of the entire game, usually is an inclination of a not very good Power 5 team.
What does this mean for the game this Saturday? It means that Tech will be playing a Power 5 team that isn’t very good. This is a game Tech should win and win convincingly, not a gauge of whether or not Tech is ready for Big 12 play. I would compare Arizona State to Iowa State. We usually beat the Cyclones, however the last two times we lost to them have been indicative of bad seasons. Iowa State isn’t going to scare you nor would you base your readiness of conference play on them, but it is important to go out there and beat them, especially at home like the 2015 team did.
Tech needs to go out and win this game convincingly to prove they are ready for Big 12 play. At least seven other members of the Big 12 would win this game handily and Tech needs to make sure they are the eighth. If not, this season could end the exact same way last season’s did, in November.