For the past month the Arizona State football team has been in the headlines for mostly the wrong the reasons.
In the midst of a four-game losing streak, a coaching staff overhaul, and suspensions to key starters the Sun Devils will look to bury the past when they face 7th-ranked Boise State in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas Thursday night.
As if ASU didn’t have enough issues, they now face a talented Bronco team who returns to Vegas for the second-straight year after being passed over for a BCS at-large bid earlier this month. The oddsmakers don’t feel real strong about ASU’s chances listed the Boise as two-touchdown favorites.
Many critics wonder how mentally ready the Devils will be after this month-long roller coaster ride.
“For [ASU] you want to see more consistent focus,” ESPN’s Chris Fowler told Brad Cesmat on “Big Guy on Sports.” “That’s what the game needs. You expect Boise State to be there. I just hope the Sun Devils are.”
The short-handed Devils will likely be without the services of talented wide receiver/running back/kick returner Jamal Miles and defensive end Junior Onyeali, while pre-season All-American linebacker Vontaze Burfict has been practicing with the second team after reportedly refusing to re-enter ASU’s 47-38 loss to Cal on November 26.
“He’s one of those guys who’s a crazy, wildcard presence,” Fowler explained to Cesmat. “He’s extremely talented. His presence has been valuable, but the scheme they’ll play against Boise State will likely de-emphasize his role.”
Boise State features one of the nation’s best offenses behind senior quarterback Kellen Moore and running backs Doug Martin and DJ Harper. The powerfully built Martin has the ability to run between the tackles, while Harper has the ability to take it the distance on any given play.
Offensively the Devils will look to stay balanced behind junior signal-caller Brock Osweiler and 1,000 rusher Cameron Marshall. Senior Gerell Robinson leads the ASU in receiving and will look to exploit a Boise secondary which has been vulnerable to big passing plays this year.
Kickoff from Sam Boyd Stadium is just past 6:00 with the game being televised on ESPN.