The Arizona State Sun Devils open their season against Sacramento State on Thursday night at Sun Devil Stadium. ASU begins the year with dreams of a Pac-12 title, and before the meat of its schedule arrives, second-year head coach Todd Graham will look to work the kinks out against the Hornets, who fell to San Jose State, 24-0, in their season opener.
Led by quarterback Taylor Kelly and the dynamic rushing attack of Marion Grice and D.J. Foster, Arizona State should be able to move the ball with ease on Thursday night. Mix in a veteran-laden defense led by All-American candidate Will Sutton and the Devils look very formidable on paper.
Rankings and records: The Sun Devils are not ranked in either the Coaches or AP Poll, though they did receive some votes.
Vegas: Arizona State is favored by 35.
Weather: The high on Thursday is 111. Temperatures may drop down to 100 or so by kickoff, but it's going to be a hot night in Tempe.
Three names to know
We touched on Will Sutton earlier, but the senior defensive tackle is as good as advertised. There was talk he may turn pro after an impressive 2012 campaign, and now he will be the anchor for ASU's highly touted defensive line.
Taylor Kelly was somewhat surprisingly named the starter last season following Brock Osweiler's departure. He ended up surpassing all expectations, throwing for 3,039 yards, 29 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Some think Kelly could be a darkhorse candidate for the Heisman trophy.
D.J. Foster was Graham's prized recruit last year and displayed just how quick he is while racking up six touchdowns and upwards of 1,000 total yards.
Two things at stake
With four ranked opponents coming up consecutively, the Sun Devils have to come out focused and playing hard. A big win would provide some momentum heading into a home showdown with Wisconsin next week.
A win for Sacramento State would be the biggest in school history. It enters as heavy underdogs, and the score being close at halftime would likely be enough for the Hornets' coaching staff to feel good about the road trip.
How to witness
TV: Pac-12 Network, 10 p.m. ET
Radio: IMG-Sun Devil Sports Network 620 KTR-AM in Phoenix. In the Sacramento area, KTKZ 1380 AM The Answer will call the game.
Online streaming: Pac-12.com will have the game live.
For continued coverage of Sun Devils football throughout the season, be sure to check out our ASU community, House of Sparky. Pac-12 fans should visit Pacific Takes for all the latest out of the west coast.
Florida Atlantic at East Carolina: FOX Sports 1, 7:30 p.m. ET
Florida Atlantic began their season on the wrong side of a blowout, losing 34-6 on the road against Miami. The Owls allowed over 500 total yards to the Hurricanes, including 303 on the ground (and 186 to Duke Johnson on just 19 carries). To the Owls' credit, they did a fine job "containing" Stephen Morris, as the inconsistent Miami quarterback was just 15/27 for 160 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Wide receiver William Dukes could provide some excitement for Florida Atlantic -- although he only caught two passes for 12 yards against Miami, he had 63 receptions for 979 yards and four touchdowns last season.
East Carolina dispatched of a tough Old Dominion team in their opener, winning 52-38 at home. The two teams combined for 817 passing yards in the high-flying affair, as reigning Walter Camp winner Taylor Heinicke completed 38 of 51 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns against the Pirates (while also running 11 times for 52 yards and a score). On East Carolina's side of things, the Shane Carden-Justin Hardy connection looks lethal. Carden completed 46 of 54 passing attempts for 447 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions against a porous Old Dominion secondary, while Hardy caught 16 of those passes for 191 yards. With nothing else on the slate at the time of the game, those two could be worth the watch.