ASU Sun Devils looks to stay humble, hungry against Colorado

Sep 11, 2014, 9:25 PM | Updated: 10:34 pm

TEMPE, Ariz. – Five times Arizona State has played Colorado on the football field. Five times Arizona State has beaten Colorado.

In fact, looking at those previous matchups, the Sun Devils have outscored the Buffaloes, 206-61, including a 54-13 route in Tempe last season.

One-sided? Absolutely, but don’t tell that to ASU head coach Todd Graham.

“I told [our] guys you better stay humble, better stay hungry, better get out butts prepared. It’s conference play,” he said. “There’s no team in this league that can’t beat you if you don’t prepare to play, and the only team that can beat us is us.”

Graham pointed to Washington State winning at USC in their Pac-12 opener last year as an example of what can happen should a team overlook an opponent.

It matters little to him that Colorado has but four conference wins since joining the Pac-12 in 2011.

What matters to Graham is the here and now.

“You can throw all of (the records) out,” he said. “People are going to play. You’ve got nine opportunities and you’ve better win all nine of them. This is a South opponent. You got to beat every team in the South to win it. We were able to do that last year (but) that doesn’t count for this year.”

After wins over Weber State and New Mexico, No. 16 ASU gets its first conference test, on the road at Colorado Saturday.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on ESPN Phoenix 620 AM. Pregame coverage starts at 5 p.m.

“This is when it’s go-time,” running back D.J. Foster said. “We still obviously have Notre Dame down the road, but these next couple of weeks are very critical for our season, especially where we got last year and how we want to end up (this year), so we’ve definitely got to take care of business week in and week out.”

The numbers would suggest Colorado (1-1) will provide very little resistance. The Buffaloes’ offense is averaging only 29 points per game, which ranks 10th in the conference, while the defense allows a league-worst 34.5 points.

They do have one of the better wide receivers in 6-foot-1 junior Nelson Spruce, who Graham singled out as the number-one player they must stop.

Spruce leads the Pac-12 in both receiving yards (249) and receiving touchdowns (4).

“Very, very impressive on film,” safety Damarious Randall said. “He’s been killing one-on-one coverage, so we’re going to try to do something in the back end and slow him down a little bit.”

It’s been seven years since the Sun Devils opened a season 3-0. That last happened in 2007, when then-coach Dennis Erickson’s first ASU team started 8-0.

A crowd of 36,000 is expected at Folsom Field in Boulder, where the forecast calls for temperatures in the upper 40s at game time.

“Every road game is 20 times different than any type home game,” Randall said. “The way I look at it is going up on the road, we are automatically down 14-0 before we even step up on the field.”

Added Graham, “The hardest thing to do is win on the road in conference play. Obviously, (Colorado) will be highly motivated. We can make their whole year, a ranked team coming in and not taking care of our business.”

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