Top 25 Teams and Games No. 13 Arizona St.
Published: Tuesday, June 17, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 18, 2008 at 12:12 a.m.
TEAM NO. 13 — ARIZONA STATE
The buzz: Dennis Erickson did a remarkable job turning this program around in his first season, leading the Sun Devils to a 10-3 record. With seven starters returning on offense and seven on defense, ASU could be a serious challenger to Southern Cal in the Pac-10.
Difference-maker: Rudy Carpenter is a competitor, a playmaker and the most experienced quarterback in the Pac-10. He's coming off a season in which he threw for 3,202 yards and 25 touchdowns and figures to be even more productive in his second season running Erickson's offense.
The upside: Carpenter's two leading receivers return and this is an offense that should roll up lots of yards and points. The defense should be improved, led by standout ends Dexter Davis and Luis Vasquez and all-conference safety Troy Nolan (six interceptions last season).
The downside: The offensive line was overwhelmed by good defensive fronts a year ago, giving up a whopping 55 sacks on the season. Injuries were a major factor, so the Sun Devil's need to stay healthy up front or Carpenter will take a beating.
Schedule factor: The Sun Devils have a four-game stretch in the middle of the season — Georgia, at California, at Southern Cal and Oregon — that will determine if this team has a chance to contend for a championship.
GAME NO. 13 — GEORGIA AT ARIZONA STATE
Where: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
When: Sept. 20.
Why it's sexy: It's one of the SEC's best against one of the Pac 10's best in a prime-time, nationally televised game (8 p.m., ABC). The game will feature two veteran quarterbacks in Georgia junior Matthew Stafford and Arizona State senior Rudy Carpenter. If the Bulldogs are to contend for a national title, as many experts predict, this is a crucial game considering Georgia must also travel to LSU, Auburn while hosting Tennessee and facing Florida in Jacksonville.
Preseason buzz: The Bulldogs enter the season in the top five of everybody's poll while Arizona State is a consensus top 15 team. Both teams are expected to contend for conference titles. Key stat: Georgia coach Mark Richt is 29-2 against non-conference opponents and is 25-4 when playing in an opponent's stadium.
Comments are currently unavailable on this article