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ASU football looks to return to winning ways at home vs. Colorado

Arizona State quarterback Manny Wilkins (5) looks to pass the ball against Washington during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

After upsetting No. 24 Oregon and No. 5 Washington earlier this season, the Sun Devils (4-4, 3-2 Pac-12) weren’t counted out when they began their matchup against No. 21 USC last weekend in Tempe.

But a third upset of a ranked opponent at home this year wasn’t in the cards, as ASU fell 48-17.

With a record of 3-2 at home now, the Sun Devils face the Colorado Buffaloes (5-4, 2-4 Pac-12), who have struggled in-conference this season. The Buffs have lost to conference foes Washington, UCLA, Arizona and Washington State, beating only the two bottom teams in the Pac-12 North: Cal and Oregon State.

Colorado is just 1-2 on the road this season, making for a winnable game for ASU — a team that had won three of its last four before losing to USC last week.

In their “Salute to Service” game, ASU will wear special “Brotherhood” uniforms that pay tribute to active military and veterans. And with that, here’s what lies ahead for the Sun Devils on Saturday night at Sun Devil Stadium:

Essential Info

What: Arizona State (4-4, 3-2 Pac-12) vs. Colorado (5-4, 2-4 Pac-12)

When: 6 p.m.

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Radio: 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station

Storylines to follow

The QB matchup

Quarterbacks Manny Wilkins of ASU and Steven Montez of the Buffs will square off. Wilkins’ 65.8 completion is 15th in the country, ahead of QBs like Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, USC’s Sam Darnold, Alabama’s Jalen Hurts and UCLA’s Josh Rosen. Montez is 35th in the country at 63.3.

Montez, a sophomore, did not play against the Sun Devils when Colorado beat ASU 40-16 in Boulder last season (instead, it was Sefo Liufau). He has 15 touchdowns to six interceptions this season, and completed 20 of 26 passes for 347 yards with three touchdowns and no picks in the Buffs’ win over the Golden Bears last week.

By land or by air

Colorado has employed the run game successfully this season far more so than Arizona State. The Sun Devils’ 121.4 rushing yards per game are 109th in the FBS, while the Buffaloes’ 171.4 rushing yards per game is 56th in the country. Buffaloes senior running back Phillip Lindsay is fourth in the nation in rushing yards this season with 1,254 to go with 10 touchdowns.

Conversely, the Sun Devils’ 268.8 passing yards per game are 37th in the nation, while Colorado is 55th in that category (245.4). ASU’s premiere offensive weapon this season has frequently been sophomore wideout N’Keal Harry, who is 25th in the country in receiving yards this season with 713. That mark is 4th in the country among sophomores.

Stats to know

600: A win over Colorado will make for the 600th win in Sun Devil football history.

7-1: ASU is 7-1 in the all-time series against the Buffaloes, with their only loss coming last season.

3-1: ASU is 3-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less the season. The wins were against New Mexico State, Oregon and Washington, while the loss was to Texas Tech.

10: Saturday’s game will be the 10th in as many weeks for Colorado, who has yet to enjoy a bye week this season. ASU got its bye week four weeks ago after a 34-24 loss to Stanford, but the Buffaloes will face USC next week before finally getting a bye. After that, they have one more regular season tilt — at Utah.

3: Redshirt junior linebacker Christian Sam is ranked third in the nation and first in the Pac-12 with 6.9 solo tackles per game.

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