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Sacramento State vs. Arizona State Football Prediction and Preview

Sacramento State vs. Arizona State Football Prediction and Preview

Sacramento State vs. Arizona State (ASU) Prediction and Preview

Week 1 for Arizona State was over in a flash really, as the Sun Devils took care of visiting Kent State with relative ease last Thursday. Week 2 should be in hand even quicker when FCS opponent Sacramento State comes to Tempe on Friday night.

That is unless Herm Edwards' crew opts to look beyond what's next on the agenda to a Week 3 road heater with No. 18 Michigan State. Then, ASU could be falling into a trap for a loss that could potentially derail the Sun Devils with Pac-12 play set to kick off the following week.

But that wouldn't happen, would it?

It nearly did for Minnesota or Kansas in their Week 1 misadventures against FCS competition.

Or better yet where it pertains to Arizona State, take heed of what happened with Iowa State, who needed overtime fortune against Northern Iowa to avoid a season-opening home loss.

The Sun Devils just can't allow that to happen against the Hornets. They need to sting Sacramento State to give themselves confidence for Michigan State and beyond.

The Hornets are coming off of a sound thrashing of NAIA program Southern Oregon, dominating the Raiders in a school-record 77-19 Week 1 decision. Sacramento State piled up the points and yards (685 total) against an overmatched opponent, and will likely find itself in a similar position Friday night against Arizona State.

Sacramento State at Arizona State

Kickoff: Friday, Sept. 6, at 10 p.m. ET

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Spread: Arizona State -35

When Sacramento State Has the Ball

One of college football's top connections in Week 1 was Hornets quarterback Kevin Thomson to wide receiver Pierre Williams for three touchdowns in the dismantling of Southern Oregon.

Williams turned his team-high five catches into 140 yards and those three scores. The yards were the most by a Sacramento State player in the last four seasons.

Thomson, a junior, went 14-for-20 passing for 303 yards and four touchdowns. The aerial attack (340 passing yards) was supplemented by a potent ground game that produced more yards (345) and the majority of the touchdowns (seven). Thomson himself led the way with 90 rushing yards on just four carries (22.5 ypc) and a touchdown.

First-year head coach Troy Taylor had to be pleased with what his team was able to do on offense but he understands the task facing them. Arizona State's defense "did a fabulous job," according to head coach Herm Edwards, last week in limiting Kent State's offense to just seven points and 200 yards.

The Sun Devils forced a pair of fumbles, collected three sacks, and held the Golden Flashes to just three yards per carry and 80 total passing yards (on 12 completions) in the convincing victory.

When Arizona State Has the Ball

Expect more of the same from the Sun Devils on offense after a balanced attacked generated 455 yards and held onto the ball for more than 34 minutes last week.

It made for a successful debut for true freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels, who went 15-for-24 as a passer for 284 yards and two touchdowns while adding a rushing score. Most importantly, Daniels didn't turn the ball over. For the most part, Edwards said he was pleased with what he saw from his young signal-caller.

"A little inconsistent, couple of bad reads when he should have run the ball a couple of times," he said following last week's opener. "But look, he's a freshman quarterback. For the most part, he did some good things too. The one thing I liked about the guy, no matter what was going on in the game, he was always composed."

Facing an FCS defense should only serve to boost Daniels' confidence heading into next week's big showdown at Michigan State.

Sacramento State's defense will look for more big plays after recording four interceptions and four sacks in last week's rout of Southern Oregon.

The Sun Devils will try and take control of the game early behind running back Eno Benjamin. The junior quietly had another 100-yard game last week, going for 102 on 22 carries against Kent State. Chances are Benjamin won't play the entire game, just like last week, but expect him to do some damage when given the chance against the Hornets.

As a team, Arizona State ran for 171 yards on 46 carries against the Golden Flashes. So Edwards would no doubt like to see them improve upon that 3.7 yards per carry average.

Final Analysis

In the end, this game boils down to an FCS school facing a well-established Power 5 FBS program on home turf. That's a matchup that rarely ends in defeat for the heavy favorites.

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And Edwards is unlikely to let his charges look past this contest, even with such a vital game against Michigan State next on the schedule.

Prediction: Arizona State 40, Sacramento State 20

— Written by Todd Saelhof, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sports editor/writer for Postmedia in Canada. Follow him on @ToddSaelhofPM at #CollegeFootballFrenzy.