Archive for: October 2013

World of Beer to Open New Location in Tucson

WOB_ext

Beer plus college students plus a hip and trendy location equals success for World of Beer.

This formula was executed flawlessly earlier in 2012 in Tempe on Mill Avenue and is set to open for a sneak preview on Monday, October 28  at 5 pm to a select group.  A Facebook party for all those that have “liked” their facebook page will be held on Tuesday at 11am with the grand opening on Thursday morning at 9 am for their “WOB-oween Spook-tacular” replete with chicken and waffles for breakfast and a costume contest with tons of beer-related giveaways.

This will be Tampa, Florida based World of Beer’s 51st location at the base of The Cadence student housing complex at 350 E. Congress St, the apex of Congress, Fourth and Toole Avenues. The 3,000 square foot tavern also offers a 1,500 square foot patio for those looking to unwind amidst the hustle and bustle of all that downtown Tucson has to offer.

This location is unlike it’s precursor in Tempe as they will not only offer beer but also spirits and tavern fare.

“We are very excited to become a part of the growing craft beer scene in the Tucson community,” said JP Watts, WOB Arizona Craft Beer Buyer. “We really look forward to bringing new and rare products into the local market!”

WOB TucsonWatts believes that the full appeal of food and spirits will advance the Tucson location to the next level. It starts with classic comfort foods, combining them with traditional bar offerings and give them a contemporary spin. The menu features flatbreads, brats and craft beer-infused appetizers. Healthier options such as soups and salads are complemented by hearty favorites like brat sliders and grilled cheese sandwiches.

“We are glad to open WOB Tucson with the great selection of craft beer that we are known for as well as our exclusively developed Tavern Fare and hand crafted cocktails,” said World of Beer CEO Paul Avery. “We look forward to bringing new flavors to Tucson and can’t wait to share it with everyone.”

Let’s talk about the beer.

World of Beer will have over 500 different bottles of beer in their coolers lining the back walls as well as a constantly rotating list of 50 beers on tap including several local options. The Tempe location currently carries at least 15 Arizona-brewed beers on tap at all times so look to the Tucson location to maintain that high level of local dedication as they look to be seen more as a hometown choice rather than the nationwide conglomerate that they have become. World of Beer has locations in 16 states ranging from Florida to Washington with new locations opening soon in the northeast and the deep south.

Local favorites Barrio and Dragoon Brewing will be in plentiful supply as well as Four Peaks and SanTan Breweries from the metro Phoenix area, Oak Creek from Sedona, Lumberyard Brewing from Flagstaff and Mudshark Brewing from Lake Havasu City.

This will not be your typical beer bar—far from it. There will be live music, sporting events and several ‘beer-centric’ events such as brewery spotlights, tap takeovers and others that celebrate the flavors of the season.

WOB CruiserPrior to the Grand Opening on Halloween, the ‘WOB U’ preview party will take place. ‘WOB U’ offers $2 off American craft drafts for all faculty and students with valid ID. The first Wednesday will be extra special as they will be giving away a custom World of Beer beach cruiser. Opening weekend is chock full of events including a Tucson Brewery Spotlight on Friday night, an Arizona Brewers Spotlight on Saturday and a Sunday Cookout beginning at 9 am for grilling and NFL enthusiasts.

World of Beer will also be rewarding its customers with a Loyalty Club Program. Members will gain one point for every new beer purchased and will go towards access, appreciation and rewards. The rewards include gift cards, t-shirts, polo shirts, plaques, mugs and even an open-bar party for you and your friends. They even have an app available for iPhone and Android devices that will track your progress!

Operating hours will be from 11 am – 2 am with food served all day long. They will also open at 9 am on the weekends during football season. Weekly events are as follows:

  • Happy Hour Monday-Friday 4 pm to 7  pm
  • Monday—Service Industry Night
  • Tuesday—Loyalty Night
  • Wednesday—’WOB U’ Night
  • Thursday—Ladies’ Night

The staff has completed an intensive, two-week beer school and will guide customers through the World of Beer experience including a global menu of beer and spirits so live a little, experience all that a World of Beer has to offer right here in downtown Tucson.

 

Looking Ahead at Sun Devils’ Second Half of the Season

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The Arizona State football team displayed one of the best performances of the year and it was against a Top 20 team in the Washington Huskies.

The Sun Devils (5-2, 3-1) have flirted with the Top 25 rankings twice this year, only to be ceremoniously dropped the next week following losses on the road to Stanford and Notre Dame.

They are, however, dominant at home. The Devils are a perfect 5-0 this season and an awe-inspiring 9-2 under Todd Graham; losing a nail-biter last season to UCLA and a blowout loss to Oregon.

With five games remaining in the season, three of the games are away from Sun Devil Stadium and the home games are no picnic either—hosting No. 25 Oregon State and rival Arizona. Although the Wildcats (4-2, 1-2) are struggling this season, they have won three of the last five meetings in Tempe including the past two.

What lies ahead for the Sun Devils after the bye week? Let’s delve inside and take a look.

Washington State Cougars

NCAA Football: Washington State at Arizona StateThe last time these teams met, it was a blowout. The Sun Devils ran up 46 straight points against the Cougars before Connor Halliday threw a 54-yard touchdown in the final minute avoiding the shutout.

The victory gave the Sun Devils a 24-13-2 lead in the series, but they are only 9-8 on the Palouse. The last time Arizona State played in Pullman, they were greeted with blizzard conditions and lost 37-27 due to a scoreless fourth quarter and an abysmal kicking performance.

Halliday is having a banner season placing second in the FBS with 2,798 yards and is tied with Arizona State’s Taylor Kelly for sixth in the nation with 18 touchdowns. Halliday also leads all quarterbacks in another category—interceptions (17). He has not had a pick-free game all season and threw four last week against Oregon and three in the season opener against Auburn.

Washington State has long been the whipping post of the Pac-12 and their 10-7 defeat of No. 25 USC in the Coliseum will long be remembered in Cougar lore. However, that will be the highlight of their season as they go on to lose on Halloween.

Game Details

  • Date: Oct. 31, 2013
  • Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: Martin Stadium, Pullman, Wash.
  • TV: ESPN
  • Radio: 92.3 KTAR FM (Phoenix metro area)
  • Current Opponent Record: (4-4, 2-3)
  • Current Ranking: N/A

Utah Utes

NCAA Football: Utah at Arizona StateThe former WAC foes have played 24 times in the series with Arizona State holding a convincing 18-6 lead. The Sun Devils have won nine straight over the Utes and are 5-3 at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

The Utes shocked the nation two weeks ago by defeating No. 5 Stanford at home but limped out of Arizona Stadium last weekend after losing 35-24 to a subpar Wildcat team.

Which team will show up against Arizona State on Nov. 9? It’s anybody guess as they are 1-2 at home against conference foes.

Quarterback Travis Wilson ranks eighth in the conference in passing yards (1,655) and completion percentage (60.4), while placing fifth in yards per attempt (8.2) and touchdowns (14). He has thrown 12 interceptions, while being sacked nine times. To his credit, his five rushing touchdowns are third-most in the conference among quarterbacks.

Leading running back Bubba Poole and receiver Dres Anderson are integral parts of the Utes’ No. 37-ranked scoring offense averaging 35.1 points per game.

Their defense is quite porous, though, allowing 26.7 points per game and facing Arizona State’s sixth-ranked offense, I see this getting out of hand quickly for the Utes.

Game Details

  • Date: Nov. 9, 2013
  • Time: TBA
  • Location: Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • TV: TBA
  • Radio: 92.3 KTAR FM (Phoenix metro area)
  • Current Opponent Record: (4-3, 1-3)
  • Current Ranking: N/A

Oregon State Beavers

Arizona State v Oregon StateOregon State had an embarrassing opening weekend, losing to FCS Eastern Washington—at home. They have gone on to win six straight, but don’t let the numbers fool you. They have played the four worst teams in the Pac-12 with a combined 3-13 conference record. Hawaii and San Diego State, their other two victories, are a combined 3-9 overall.

Beavers quarterback Sean Mannion has monster numbers leading the nation with 2,992 yards and 29 touchdowns. Once again, we need to put these numbers in perspective when looking at the teams they have played with five of the six teams ranked 100th or worse in team defense.

Utah’s 62nd ranked defense is the toughest team they have played—and they needed overtime to secure the victory.

Oregon State hosts No. 6 Stanford this weekend and USC on a Friday night matchup the following week. They then get a nice 15-day break before traveling to Tempe. Starting this weekend, the Beavers will be brought back down to earth and will struggle to win a game from here on out.

Game Details

Date: Nov. 16, 2013

  • Time: TBA
  • Location: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
  • TV: TBA
  • Radio: 92.3 KTAR FM (Phoenix metro area)
  • Current Opponent Record: (6-1, 4-0)
  • Current Ranking: No. 25 BCS

UCLA Bruins

asu-uclaThe Bruins started the season like a team on fire. After falling behind 18 points to No. 23 Nebraska in Week 2, they scored 31 unanswered points to beat the Huskers, 41-21. Much like the Beavers, the Bruins have enjoyed an easy schedule to start the year by defeating Nevada, New Mexico State and Pac-12 cellar dwellers, Utah and Cal.

They traveled to Stanford and looked horrible, being shutout in the first half and only managing 10 points and 266 total yards. It doesn’t get any easier for the Bruins as they travel to Autzen Stadium this weekend to take on the No. 3 Oregon Ducks.

Last year’s meeting between the Devils and Bruins in Tempe was a shootout with UCLA handing Arizona State its second loss in as many weeks. The Sun Devils jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, but the Bruins tied it up before the first quarter ended. The Bruins led by 11 points in the third quarter and nine in the fourth until the Sun Devils finally took back the lead with just over a minute remaining in the game. The Bruins kicked a field goal as time expired knocking the wind out of the Sun Devil faithful.

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley hasn’t tripped the light fantastic like Mannion, although he has faced a relatively easy schedule. He comes in ranked No. 32 in the nation in passing with 1,661 yards and his 13 touchdowns rank seventh in the conference. His completion percentage (66.8), however, is second best in the conference and ranks 21st in the country.

There are no big name threats on the offense with Jordon James in the backfield and Shaquelle Evans at receiver, both finding the end zone five times apiece.

After Oregon this weekend, the Bruins should improve their record by defeating Colorado, Arizona and Washington. The Sun Devils will be the only obstacle standing in the way of claiming their third consecutive Pac-12 South crown.

At this point, it is impossible to say which team will emerge the victor given the schedule over the next month, but it will most likely resemble last year’s matchup with the Sun Devils squeaking out the victory this year.

Game Details

  • Date: Nov. 23, 2013
  • Time: TBA
  • Location: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
  • TV: TBA
  • Radio: 92.3 KTAR FM (Phoenix metro area)
  • Current Opponent Record: (6-1, 4-0)
  • Current Ranking: No. 12 BCS, No. 12 AP, No. 11 USA Today

Arizona Wildcats

graham TcupBreaking from tradition, once again, the Territorial Cup between Arizona and Arizona State will not be played the Friday after Thanksgiving, but on Saturday.

The Wildcats lead the series 47-38-1, but the oldest rivalry trophy dating back to 1899 currently resides in Tempe at Arizona State. Since 2000, the Sun Devils lead the series 8-5, but the most telling statistic is that the visiting team has won eight of the last 13.

This game defies any and all traditional statistical analyzing or breaking down players’ strengths and weaknesses. It has been and will be won by the team that is able to make adjustments on-the-fly after seeing what the other team has to offer.

The game is rarely a blowout with nine games in the past 13 being decided by a touchdown or less. The 2003 game in Tempe and 2008 in Tucson are the exceptions, where the home team not only won but literally dismantled the other by 21 points.

The last time the Sun Devils beat Arizona at home was in 2007 when they were ranked No. 13 in the country. If they can win out coming into this crucial matchup, they will be ranked near there and will pull out the victory.

Game Details

  • Date: Nov. 30, 2013
  • Time: TBA
  • Location: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
  • TV: TBA
  • Radio: 92.3 KTAR FM (Phoenix metro area)
  • Current Opponent Record: (4-2, 1-2)
  • Current Ranking: N/A

Comparing UW’s Keith Price and ASU’s Taylor Kelly

Kelly-CUArizona State and Washington haven’t met in the past three years, but it’s safe to say that they haven’t missed each other.

In the classic tale of two teams, one coming off a big win and the other reeling from a disappointing loss, both teams need a win this Saturday—but only one can have it.

The Arizona State Sun Devils (4-2, 2-1 Pac-12) welcome the No. 20 Washington Huskies (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) to Tempe on Homecoming weekend. There will be plenty of pomp and circumstance along with reunions, floats and a parade down University Drive.

The biggest draw of the weekend will be just north of the parade route in Sun Devil Stadium with two of the conference’s best quarterbacks providing the fireworks.

Who’s the better quarterback when all the chips are down, the game is on the line and myriad other idiomatic expressions?

Here is an in-depth analysis of the two signal callers.

Arm Strength

Oregon v WashingtonKeith Price

  • Height: 6’1″
  • Weight: 202
  • Year: Senior
  • Hometown: Compton, Calif.

Price has a rocket for an arm, he threw for over 3,000 yards his sophomore season, 2,728 last year and already has over 1,500 yards after six games. He averages 8.2 yards per attempt and has thrown 12 touchdowns including a 49-yard score in torrential rain against Arizona.

He averages 262.6 passing yards per game and anchors the No. 30 ranked passing offense in the nation with 278.8 passing yards per game. His 12 touchdown passes and four interceptions are tied for sixth-best in the conference with Brett Hundley of UCLA and Kevin Hogan of Stanford.

Notre Dame v Arizona StateTaylor Kelly

  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 203
  • Year: Junior
  • Hometown: Eagle, Idaho

Following the departure of Brock Osweiler after the 2011 season, the sophomore quarterback entered the 2012 spring and fall practices battling for the starting position. Head coach Todd Graham showed his eye for spotting talent and designated Kelly the starter over Michael Eubank and Mike Bercovici.

Kelly has been electric since being named starter and hasn’t looked back. Through six games this season, he has already amassed 1,965 passing yards and averages 327.5 yards per games and 8.2 yards per attempt.

He is a fixture in the national rankings breaking the top 10 in several areas:

  • No. 6 in passing yards
  • No. 7 in total offensive yards
  • No. 8 in passing TDs
  • No. 8 in passing yards per game
  • No. 10 in total attempts
  • No. 10 in completions per game.

Advantage: Kelly

Mobility

Taylor Kelly is a prototypical dual-threat quarterback. Although he has myriad weapons in Jaelen Strong, D.J. Foster, Chris Coyle and Marion Grice, Kelly still manages to run the ball at a competitive pace.

He is second on the team in both rushing attempts (44) and rushing yards (165) and scored his first touchdown on the ground last week against Colorado scampering 17 yards prior at the end of the first half. Unfortunately for Kelly, as with all quarterbacks, sacks are subtracted from rushing yards which would make his rushing numbers look even better.

Kelly’s ability to extend plays and scramble make him a dangerous threat to any defensive scheme.

Keith Price hasn’t found much of a need to run the ball this season with the nation’s leading rusher in Bishop Sankey in the backfield. Sankey’s 899 rushing yards and 159 attempts are both tops in the country.

Price is only averaging 10 yards rushing per game and has finished on the negative side of the fence on two occasions. He has one rushing touchdown, a one-yard push against Idaho St. earlier in the month.

When needed, Price is a viable option to run for a couple yards, but Kelly is more of a threat in open-field situations.

Advantage: Kelly 

Decision Making

Arizona v WashingtonKeith Price is a seasoned veteran, the senior quarterback has thrown for 12 touchdowns and ony four interceptions this year. This places him at No. 4 in the conference with Marcus Mariota from Oregon, the only QB in the Pac-12 without a pick, leading the way.

Price’s ratio of completions to interceptions of 133:4 ranks third in the conference behind the aforementioned Mariota and Oregon State’s Sean Mannion.

Both Price and Kelly have taken 12 sacks this season, a number tied for 2nd most in the Pac-12 and 28th most in the nation. Taking sacks are often times unavoidable but other times are a last second decision to not throw it in possible interception situations.

Taylor Kelly has struggled recently with interceptions, including a game-deciding pick-six against Notre Dame in Dallas earlier in October.

His six interceptions is fourth most in the conference tied with Cal’s Jared Goff. The Cal football team is in shambles with only one victory this year—against a FCS opponent. Kelly’s interceptions have come in pairs this year in Sun Devil losses against Stanford and Notre Dame.

Kelly now holds a 2-7 record when he has thrown at least one interception and a perfect 10-0 record when he doesn’t. Suffice to say when Kelly makes good decisions, the Devils win—when he doesn’t, the Devils struggle mightily.

Advantage: Price

Accuracy

Colorado v Arizona StateTaylor Kelly’s name has become synonymous with accuracy in his short career at Arizona State. In his last nine games, Kelly has thrown for 24 touchdowns, completing 190-of-295 passes for 2,670 yards and a 64.4 percentage. He has averaged 296.7 passing yards over that span including starting this year with five straight games over 300 yards. It’s safe to assume it would have been six straight had he played the entire game against Colorado.

Kelly already holds the school record in career accuracy, passing greats Rudy Carpenter and Brock Osweiler. For quarterbacks with more than 300 attempts in a season, Kelly is also tops.

Additionally, Kelly holds records for most consecutive pass completions in a game; 18 vs. Washington St. last year as well as the top two places for highest completion percentage in a game; 89.5 percent against Navy in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and 87 percent against Washington St.

Keith Price is having his best year in terms of completion percentage through the first six games of the 2013 season. He has completed 133-of-192 attempts for 1,576 yards, an astounding 69.3 percent. That is good enough to rank him No.1 in the conference and 12th best in the country among starting quarterbacks.

Price struggled last week against a strong Oregon defense but lit up a Stanford defense that gave Kelly fits only weeks prior.

Advantage: Kelly (by a hair)

Intangibles

Jake Locker was under center for the Washington Huskies the last time time the two teams met and was intercepted by Arizona State’s Omar Bolden in the end zone on the final play of the game to give the Sun Devils a 24-14 victory in rainy Seattle.

Washington v Arizona StateLocker and Bolden went on to careers in the NFL due to hard work, perseverance and a long list of other intangibles that scouts and GMs saw in the combine and during preseason.

What intangibles do Kelly and Price hold?

Taylor Kelly is mastering the offense and taking command of the team. Kelly himself said (via Ted Miller on ESPN.com)

“When things would start to hit the fan last year, I would kind of panic and start forcing things. Or if we were down, I’d feel I had to make a play. After watching film, I realize I need to take the easy route and take what the defense gives me.”

Coach Graham agrees:

“He commands our team. He’s a guy with all the intangibles, a guy we completely trust,” Graham said. “We have a quarterback who is a championship-level quarterback. That gives you a chance.”

Keith Price is a senior that has been playing with an injured thumb on his throwing hand since midway through the Stanford game—his best performance of his career. Huskies’ coach Steve Sarkisian admired his tenacity in the game and said (via Adam Jude of the Seattle Times)

“(After) some of the shots he took, for him to continue to get back up to throw the football, to make really critical throws on third downs in the second half, I just thought was tremendous,” Sarkisian said.

Jeff Bell, featured columnist for the Oregon Ducks on Bleacher Report described Price as a bigger threat to the Ducks than running back Bishop Sankey due to his ability to “open up the entire playbook on second and third down,” Bell goes on to say:

“Price will have the ball on every offensive snap and will be able to distribute it to any number of offensive weapons. His toughness is unmatched, and he isn’t making the same mistakes from last season.”

Commanding the offense, opening the entire playbook, playing without panic and through adversity are all major intangibles held by the these two solid field generals.

Advantage: Push

Conclusion and Prediction

USC v Arizona StateAlthough Kelly’s accuracy has fallen off a bit this season, his rushing acumen is what make him a true dual threat in the backfield.

He is ranked No. 20 nationally in Total Quarterback Rating by ESPN which takes into account an entire slew of situations that are not reflected in the stats.

Dean Oliver explains the several areas that Total QBR captures:

“It accounts for down, distance, field position, as well as the clock and score. A 5-yard gain on third-and-4 is a good play, whereas a 5-yard gain on third-and-14 isn’t. A 20-yard touchdown pass when tied in the second quarter means more than a 20-yard touchdown pass when down 30 points late in the fourth quarter.”

Kelly’s Total QBR of 80.4 is 10 spots better than Price’s 75.9 and is the third-best rating in the conference.

All things considered; Price’s injury, Kelly playing dominant at home and the Sun Devils’ current seven-game win streak against the Huskies dating back to 2002, Kelly will prove that he is indeed the better quarterback.

Washington 31, Arizona State 42

Things We Learned About Sun Devils in Loss to Notre Dame

Notre Dame v Arizona StateThe invitations were sent, the stage was set for the Arizona State’s football team to join the upper echelon of college football teams. However, much like the bespectacled, acne-ridden teenager at the big dance, the Sun Devils fumbled and stumbled once again and is now hanging in the corner of the gymnasium eschewing any further big opportunities.

Back in their comfort zone of mediocrity, Coach Todd Graham will play the role of the cool kid that befriends the nerd in an attempt to raise their confidence. Unfortunately, the Sun Devils will most likely return to being the fringe team that is happy winning lower-level bowls in cities like San Antonio, El Paso and San Francisco.

Two marquee matchups on national networks—two losses. Thankfully, for the Sun Devils, the schedules lightens up a little over the next six weeks. They will dance with a couple dogs to help build up their confidence for their next big matchup against conference rival, UCLA on Nov. 23.

Here is a list of things we learned from the loss against Notre Dame and what they will need to make a splash in the media and in the national rankings.

Turnovers Kill

pick6After holding Notre Dame to a field goal after a 10-play, 56-yard yard drive that took over five minutes off the clock, there was a confident optimism on the Sun Devil sidelines. Trailing by three with 3:03 remaining in the game, the old Schoolhouse Rock song “Three is a Magic Number” was resonating in several Arizona State fans’ heads.

Then came one of quarterback Taylor Kelly’s worst drives of the game. A four-play drive that consisted of a sack, an incomplete pass and an interception. Kelly’s record as a starter is 2-6 when he throws an interception, but the two wins were this year, so maybe the tide has changed.

The defense stood up once again causing a three-and-out registering negative yardage.

Then came the punt.

Kelly and the Arizona State offense was starting at their own one-yard line and with 1:16 left and 99-yards to go to take the lead, Kelly threw another interception, this one was easily returned for a Notre Dame touchdown.

Two costly interceptions in the final minutes of the game prove that this team cracked under the pressure.

Will Sutton Is Not 100 Percent

With all the issues that South Carolina’s Jadaveon Clowney is having this season, it would stand to reason that Will Sutton would step up and fill the void of the league’s dominant defensive end.

suttThat hasn’t been the case.

Sutton only tallied three tackles against Notre Dame, two of them solo in an otherwise uninspired performance. His 16 tackles through five games are disappointing as he had twice that number through the first five games of the 2012 campaign. He was also a fixture in the opponents’ backfield last year with six-and-a-half sacks, through five games this year, he has one.

His two tackles-for-loss also pale in comparison to the 10 that he had achieved at this point last season,

Is it bad weight or that he is unmotivated?

He has seven games remaining, including four at home to improve on his draft stock because as it stands right now, he is looking to take a big tumble.

ASU Just Not Ready for Prime Time

As an avid fan and alumnus from Arizona State, I have watched this football team through the ages. I have experienced the exhilaration and sheer joy from the 19-0 defeat of Nebraska to the the dismantling of Ryan Leaf’s unstoppable Washington St. Cougars. I have also dealt with defeat—coming from the biggest loss in program history in the “Granddaddy of Them All” in Pasadena against Ohio State to a heartbreaking loss to Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and the USC Trojans in front of  the College GameDay crew when the Devils led 21-0 at halftime.

There have been so many ups and downs that I keep a neck brace at the ready because one never knows when this train will veer suddenly off course…and then right itself just as suddenly.

jahii 2013It would be one thing, if the Sun Devils were consistently bad—they’re not. If they were, like a certain team down south,  I would know not to get all worked up for a big game broadcast live in front of God and country. I would simply do what they do in Tucson…wait for basketball season.

How about that Jahii Carson?

 

 

Power Ranking the Sun Devils’ 5 Best NFL Prospects

asu nflThe sleeping giants of the Pac-12 woke up last weekend in Tempe, Ariz.

The Arizona State football team’s vaunted defense gave way to Coach Todd Graham’s high-octane offense. The defense was no slouch either—it registered nine tackles for loss, four sacks, a forced fumble and recovery, and three interceptions including a 46-yard pick-six from Alden Darby.

The not-good-enough-for-Sunday players lit the gridiron ablaze and forced everybody to take notice of a team that single-handedly dismantled an elite football program and destroyed a coach’s career in one fell swoop.

After such an outing, will there be Heisman talk for the studs on the Sun Devils sidelines?

No, but fret not, gentle reader. This football program thrives on being the underdog and going unnoticed by the media. Due to the extreme temperatures in the desert city of Tempe, Ariz., the Sun Devils rarely, if ever, play a home game before bedtime on the East Coast.

In the 2013 NFL draft, a record zero players were drafted, and although many were invited to training camp, only Brandon Magee was signed to an active NFL roster, signing with the Cleveland Browns.

Here are the power rankings of the Sun Devils’ best NFL prospects after the first month of the 2013 season.

Will Sutton: Defensive Tackle

Wisconsin v Arizona StateThe 2012 Pat Tillman Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and consensus All-American is still the Sun Devils’ most NFL-ready player despite reports of sluggishness and adding “bad weight.”

The 6’1″, 305-pound redshirt senior out of Corona, Calif., is out to prove his doubters wrong. Through four games, he has 13 tackles, nine of them solo and 2.5 for a loss of 10 yards. He also had a sack and a fumble recovery last weekend against USC.

It is safe to say that Sutton is just getting warmed up to dominate the Irish this weekend before going on to repeat his stellar junior season.

Draft Projection: Round 2

Marion Grice: Running Back

USC v Arizona StateMarion Grice has moved up this list—quickly.

Grice, one of the nation’s best junior college running backs out of Blinn Community College in Houston, Texas, committed to coach Todd Graham and the Sun Devils and became a cornerstone of Graham’s “left lane, hammer down” offense.

He led all running backs with receiving touchdowns at the end of last season. In 2013, he not only leads all running backs with receiving touchdowns but leads all players with 12 total touchdowns, and that even includes a bye week.

Grice is the prototypical player in Graham’s offense and is breaking out of the three-headed running back committee that thrived last season. In his last seven games, Grice has scored an astounding 18 touchdowns, 13 rushing and five receiving.

In 2013, he is only averaging 3.9 yards per carry and 64 yards per game, but what is the most amazing statistic is that he scores a touchdown every 7.3 times he touches the ball.

Draft Projection: Round 3 (unless he maintains his three touchdowns per game average, in which he could go as high as the first round).

Alden Darby: Safety

Alden Darby loves playing USC.

He added his seventh and eighth career interceptions to his resume last weekend along with another pick-six; his last one was against USC last year.

Darby, a Lott IMPACT Trophy finalist was named the Player of the Week after his seven tackles, forced fumble and recovery to go along with with two interceptions.

 

 

The 5’11”, 195-pound senior out of Long Beach, Calif., is undersized, but his heart, desire and drive are not. This year, he leads the team in interceptions, pass breakups and passes defended while his 19 tackles, 13 solo, are third-best on the team.

Draft Projection: Round 6 or 7

Taylor Kelly: Quarterback

USC v Arizona StateRedshirt junior quarterback Taylor Kelly out of Eagle, Idaho, is having a breakout season in just four games in 2013. He caught fire last year after losing at USC last November and hasn’t cooled off yet.

Since that chilly November day at the Coliseum, in his past seven games, Kelly has thrown 19 touchdown passes and only four interceptions. He has averaged 296.4 yards per game over that span, completing 65.3 percent of his passes and flaunting a 159.92 quarterback rating.

This season, Kelly has thrown for 300-plus yards in every game, and his 11 passing touchdowns are tied for 11th in the FBS while his 1,370 total yards rank him at No. 8. He leads the No. 7-ranked passing offense, averaging 358.8 yards per game and the 12th-ranked overall offense averaging 44.3 points per game.

Oddly enough, last season, when Kelly threw an interception, a loss was guaranteed. However, this year, the Devils have only lost when Kelly has thrown two picks—on the road against No. 5 Stanford.

I highly doubt that Kelly will forego his final season at Arizona State unless he blows the doors off the competition from here on out.

Draft Projection (2014): Round 5 or 6

Draft Projection (2015): Round 2 or 3

Carl Bradford: Linebacker

Wisconsin v Arizona StateCarl Bradford, the 6’1″, 243-pound redshirt junior out of Norco, Calif., is having a devil of a season. Playing out of the “Devilbacker” position, Bradford and his crazy hair are getting noticed.

Bradford’s 2012 campaign was All-America-worthy with 81 tackles, including 20.5 for loss. That number alone broke the top 10 in school history. He tallied 11 sacks, three forced fumbles, two recoveries and even tacked on an interception.

Much like his counterpart, Will Sutton, Bradford started slow but is now in complete beast mode. He leads the team in sacks, tackles for loss and quarterback hurries. His 14 solo tackles also place him at No. 3 on the team.

Bradford is yet another player who will only get better, not only through the remainder of this season, but also as team captain next year when Sutton is gone.

Draft Projection (2014): Round 6 or 7

Draft Projection (2015): Round 4 or 5

Sun Devils Return to Top 25 Prior to Notre Dame Matchup

Grice

Arizona State University and the University of Notre Dame haven’t played each other since a home-and-home series at the end of the last century.

The Sun Devils were coming off an 11-1 season in 1996 and a 9-3 season in 1997 before playing the Fighting Irish, and everybody in the desert believed that the Sun Devil football program was a team destined for years of greatness.

The embarrassing losses to Notre Dame in 1998 and 1999 were harbingers of things to come.

Arizona State only played in three bowl games in the next six seasons—losing all three, including back-to-back Aloha Bowls.

The 2013 Fighting Irish are coming off a national championship berth last season but have played a difficult stretch of games to open irishthis year. It is the Sun Devils (3-1, 1-1Pac-12) that are nationally ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, not Notre Dame (3-2). The Fighting Irish have a narrow victory over Michigan State and losses to No. 17 Michigan and No. 14 Oklahoma at home.

Arizona State has a controversial victory over Wisconsin as well as a convincing victory over USC, hanging 62 points against the then-No. 4 defense in the country. The Sun Devils’ lone loss came on the road at No. 5 Stanford, who shot out of the gate, scoring the first 29 points of the game. Arizona State battled back but didn’t have enough in the end.

The question has now changed from, “Is Arizona State ready for Notre Dame?” to “Is Notre Dame ready for Arizona State?”

Head coach Todd Graham’s high-octane offense blistered conference rival USC to the tune of 62 points and 612 total yards. Both rank second in all-time conference play for the Sun Devils. They are averaging 44.3 points per game, the 12th-most in FBS, and redshirt junior quarterback Taylor Kelly leads an offense that ranks No. 7 in passing the country, averaging 358.8 yards per game.

Running back Marion Grice leads all players in the nation with 12 touchdowns (eight rushing, four receiving.) In fact, Grice has scored more touchdowns than 28 FBS teams. His 72 points are far and away the highest in the league, and he is tied with 12 others averaging 18 points per game.

 

Even with such amazing numbers, many feel like he can perform better—a lot better. Junior guard Jamil Douglas says of Grice, per Doug Haller of AZCentral.com, “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him run full speed.”

“It doesn’t look like he’s trying,” ASU coach Todd Graham said, per Haller. “He has a weird style. What’d he score, four touchdowns (in Saturday’s 62-41 win over USC)? He’s just phenomenal. He has this way of eluding people very smoothly to get to the end zone. He’s a unique back.”

According to Jeremy Hawkes from the ASU Athletics website, only 12 teams in the history of college football have played both USC and Notre Dame in the same season. No team has beaten them both.

This is going to be a battle of epic proportions with both teams donning special uniforms and flashy helmets for the contest. The game NCAA Football: Sacramento State at Arizona Statewill be broadcast nationally on NBC as a home game for Notre Dame, although it will feel like a home game for Coach Graham, who grew up in nearby Mesquite, Texas.

Can the Irish right the ship and maintain national prominence, or will Arizona State become the only team to complete the USC/ND sweep?

Tune in Saturday, October 5 at 7:30 p.m. ET to witness the carnage. If you can’t get near a television set, the game will also be broadcast locally in the Phoenix metropolitan area on Sports 620 KTAR AM and nationally on Sirius Channel 134, XM Channel 197 for the Arizona State feed and Sirius/XM Channel 129 for the Notre Dame feed.

Game Prediction Arizona State 42, Notre Dame 38