Arizona State Sun Devils

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 10:  Running back Kalen Ballage #7 of the Arizona State Sun Devils celebrates after scoring on a seven yard touchdown rush against the Texas Tech Red Raiders during the second half of the college football game at Sun Devil Stadium on September 10, 2015 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Kalen Ballage ties FBS TD record in Arizona State’s wild win over Texas Tech

5 Comments

If you’re a fan of offense, Texas Tech-Arizona State was your thing.  If you’re a fan of significant records being challenged?  Yeah, you doubled up on your pleasure with Week 2’s version of #Pac12AfterDark.

In a game that didn’t even hint at any type of respect whatsoever for the defensive side of the ball, the Sun Devils kept its foot on the gas pedal a little bit harder, a little bit longer than the Red Raiders in racing to a basketball score-like 68-55 win.  The 123 points in regulation was just a touchdown and two field goals away from tying the FBS record of Navy-North Texas set in 2007.

The individual story of the game, though, was Kalen Ballage.

The junior running back touched the ball a total of 15 times in the Sun Devils’ win.  On more than half of those touches, Ballage found the end zone.

The eight touchdowns (seven rushing, one receiving) for Ballage broke the single-game school and Pac-12 record for total touchdowns.  It also tied the FBS record set by Illinois’ Howard Griffith in 1990.

Further perspective: entering last night’s game that bled into the Eastern Time morning, Ballage had eight career touchdowns the past two seasons.

In the loss, Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes passed for 540 yards and five touchdowns.   The junior has now thrown for 1,023 yards and nine touchdowns the first two games of the year.

Get ready for the Week 2 hangover: Five games to watch this week

Battle At Bristol
AP Photo/The Bristol Herald-Courier, David Crigger
3 Comments

After Florida State and Texas helped close out the greatest opening weekend in college football history the past two nights, all eyes have now shifted to what’s ahead for an encore in Week 2. Unfortunately for fans, the college football scheduling gods have not been as kind to us in the second week of the season, which is to be expected when we have been so spoiled out of the gate this fall.

The five most intriguing games of Week 2 to follow are listed below:

Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech: The Battle at Bristol will pit Tennessee against Virginia Tech on the infield of Bristol Motor Speedway. The Vols escaped an upset bid by Appalachian State on Thursday night, while the Justin Fuente Era in Blacksburg got off to decent start by pulling away from Liberty. The Vols must play a sharper game on offense, because the Hokies will be feeding off the film they got from Thursday night’s game.

TCU vs. Arkansas: Both the Horned Frogs and Razorbacks opened the season with a win this past weekend, but neither did so in a fashion that inspires a tremendous amount of confidence. Were they each saving a little something for this matchup between the Big 12 and SEC, or are there some concerns that need to be addressed by Gary Patterson and Bret Bielema. This matchup in Fort Worth should provide some energy.

Pittsburgh vs. Penn State: For the first time in 16 years, these in-state rivals are set to renew their rivalry. It is difficult to comprehend the idea that a generation of college football fans in Pennsylvania have yet to experience a game between the Panthers and Nittany Lions, but they finally get their first taste of it this Saturday in western PA. It is the first of a four-game scheduling arrangement over the next four seasons. Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi has shut his team off from the media to avoid distractions this week.

Florida vs. Kentucky: The Gators were sluggish on offense in their opener before starting to pull away from UMass. Kentucky let one slip away at home last week against Southern Miss. The Gators have won 29 straight in this series dating back to 1987 and have lost just once to the Wildcats since 1980. Kentucky has not won in The Swamp since 1979. With this being the SEC opener for each, getting a jump on the division race is key, and Kentucky is already on thin ice for making postseason play after dropping last week’s game.

Utah vs. BYU: The Holy War always is worth watching because these two schools hate each other with a wild passion. Both teams enter with 1-0 records after Utah handled Southern Utah and BYU clipped Arizona in the opener. Can the Cougars go 2-0 against the Pac-12 out of the gates?

OTHER GAMES ON THE RADAR

Baylor vs. SMU: SMU still has a long way to go but could put up some offense against Baylor.

Texas vs. UTEP: After a thriller against the Irish, can Charlie Strong’s team avoid a letdown?

Boise State vs. Washington State: The Broncos were impressive last week while Mike Leach’s Cougars took a home loss against Eastern Washington.

South Florida vs. NIU: With NIU taking a loss on the road last week at Wyoming, the Huskies need a win to remain in the Group of Five hunt before it pulls away from them entirely.

Oregon vs. Virginia: The Cavaliers were trounced at home by Richmond in Bronco Mendenhall’s Virginia debut. Now they fly to Oregon? Uh-oh.

Arizona State vs. Texas Tech: Offense on offense on offense.

Illinois vs. UNC: Lovie Smith’s Illini played well in its opener and they host UNC coming off a loss.

THE TEAM YOU DON’T WANT TO BE THIS WEEK

Wofford: The FCS program travels to Ole Miss this week. You think the Rebels will be ready to unload some pent-up frustration after losing to Florida State Monday night?

FCS USET ALERT OF THE WEEK

Illinois State vs. Northwestern: Though one should logically assume Northwestern bounces back at home this week after dropping one to Western Michigan, Illinois State is coming in as one of the top FCS programs there is. Don’t be surprised if No. 9 Illinois State hangs around longer than Northwestern fans would be comfortable seeing.

Also, No. 5 Jacksonville State is visiting LSU, who lost last week in Green Bay. The Jaguars pushed Auburn to the limit last season and we know LSU’s passing game is a concern. You just never know!

Arizona State names starting QB for opener, but competition will continue

BERKELEY, CA - NOVEMBER 28:  Manny Wilkins #5 of the Arizona State Sun Devils dives for the endzone over Luke Rubenzer #17 of the California Golden Bears during the second half of their NCAA football game at California Memorial Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Berkeley, California. Wilkins stepped out of bounds at the four yard line before diving. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

At last in the here and now, Arizona State has a starting quarterback. Whether it’ll be the same starter as next month or even next week remains to be seen.

Ahead of Saturday night’s opener against Northern Arizona, ASU announced that Manny Wilkins will be the starter against the FCS program. Wilkins began summer camp engaged in a three-way competition for the job with sophomore Bryce Perkins and freshman Brady White; a neck injury suffered by Perkins whittled the list of contenders to two early on in camp.

“We’re going to run Manny out there with the first group, he’s earned that,” head coach Todd Graham said. “But we’ve got great confidence in Brady as well. Manny’s our guy to run out with the first group and we’ll go from there.

“We’ve got great confidence in both those guys, and, if Bryce was able to play, we felt that there was a very unique skill set with him.”

According to Graham, he had “known for weeks” that Wilkins would be under center for the first game. Graham also added during his radio interview that the competition isn’t over and will extend on into the season.

Wilkins served as Mike Bercovici‘s backup in 2015. The redshirt sophomore ran for 55 yards on seven carries but didn’t attempt a pass. In fact, the Sun Devils are one of two FBS teams who have entered or will enter the 2016 season without a quarterback on the roster who has attempted a pass at this level.

Also on the roster at the position is true freshman Dillon Sterling-Cole, a four-star 2016 recruit who Graham describes as “something special” and someone who they’re “excited about the future with him.”

Alamo Bowl inks extensions with Big 12, Pac-12 through 2025

TCU quarterback Bram Kohlhausen (6) runs for a touchdown against Oregon during the third overtime of the Alamo Bowl NCAA college football game, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016, in San Antonio. TCU won 47-41 in triple overtime.(AP Photo/Austin Gay)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Valero Alamo Bowl will keep its current configuration through the 2025 season.

The Big 12 and Pac-12 each announced separate deals to remain with the San Antonio-based bowl game through the next decade. Technically, it’s a six-year extension that kicks begins in 2019.

“The Conference’s long-standing relationship with the Valero Alamo Bowl has produced some unforgettable games,” said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby in a statement. “The Valero Alamo Bowl and San Antonio have been terrific hosts for our member institutions and their fans, and we are excited to join the Pac-12 to continue our relationship through 2025.”

“The Valero Alamo Bowl has a well-deserved reputation for exciting games played in front of sellout crowds and top TV viewership,” added Pac-12 commish Larry Scott. “Our universities and their fans look forward to their trips to San Antonio and playing top ranked schools from the Big 12 Conference.”

As part of the deal, each team will continue sending its top teams that do not reach a New Year’s Six game.

The announcement came in conjunction with the Alamo Bowl’s annual Pigskin Preview.

The Big 12 has sent teams to the Alamo Bowl continuously since 1994, meaning the new agreement takes the bowl and the league into their third decade together. The league is 11-11 to date in the Alamo Bowl, but 8-3 since 2005 and 4-2 since the Pac-12 rejoined the game in 2010. The Pac-12 won each of the first two Alamo Bowls.

TCU won the most recent edition, rallying from a 31-0 halftime deficit to top Oregon 47-41 in triple overtime.

The 2016 game (the second one) will be played Thursday, Dec. 29 (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).

CFT Previews: The Pac-12

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 17:  Wide receiver Darren Carrington #7 of the Oregon Ducks hurdles defensive back Budda Baker #32 of the Washington Huskies in the second half on October 17, 2015 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. The Ducks defeated the Huskies 26-20.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Getty Images
7 Comments

The Pac-12 may be, pound for pound, the deepest conference in college football. And that’s the problem.

A conference with nine good teams and zero great ones creates a thrilling week-to-week product, and a weak one when it comes to reaching the College Football Playoff. As we saw last season.

With no generational quarterback around to run the conference, 2016 shapes up more like 2015 than 2014.

NORTH
1. Washington (7-6, 4-5 Pac-12):
Most often, the off-season hype is wrong, fodder for the sake of fodder to get us through the long night that is the off-season. I don’t think this is one of those times. The Huskies don’t have Christian McCaffrey, but they have the best defense in the league, the best quarterback in the division and a coaching staff good enough to win the whole damn league.

2. Stanford (12-2, 8-1 Pac-12): It feels like a sign of disrespect to pick against the machine David Shaw helped build, and then maintain and elevate after Jim Harbaugh‘s departure. Especially when they have the game’s sharpest Swiss Army knife. Come to think of it, why are they No. 2 again?

3. Oregon (9-4, 7-2 Pac-12): The Ducks can score on anybody. The question: can they stop anyone? Not even new defensive coordinator Brady Hoke is sure of that answer.

4. Washington State (9-4, 6-3 Pac-12): Last year was a grand success for Wazzu. The Cougars won nine games, claimed twice as many Pac-12 games as they lost and stayed in the divisional race deep into the season. Another season like 2015 would be an even grander one.

5. California (8-5, 4-5 Pac-12): As we saw Friday night, Davis Webb may be the only thing standing between this team and an empty December.

6. Oregon State (2-10, 0-9 Pac-12): Poor, poor Gary Andersen. He leaves one of college football’s most stable winners for one of its heftiest rebuilds. Check back in 2018.

SOUTH
1. UCLA (8-5, 5-4 Pac-12): Jim Mora is the only coach to recruit on the same level as USC in the Pac-12 South. And USC has the nation’s most difficult schedule. Add in that plus Josh Rosen and you get yet another Pac-12 title game loss for the Bruins.

2. Utah (10-3, 6-3 Pac-12): Utah won more total games than any team in the Pac-12 South last season, they shared the division championship with USC and they have the best offensive and defensive lines in the conference. So, why aren’t I picking them? In the Pac-12, always side with quarterbacks.

3. USC (8-6, 6-3 Pac-12): The most talented overall roster in the conference, but the worst schedule in the nation. Alabama, Stanford, Utah, Washington and UCLA on the road, plus Oregon and Notre Dame coming to the Coliseum? Yikes.

4. Arizona (7-6, 3-6 Pac-12): Arizona won’t win the Pac-12 South as they did in 2014. But they won’t be as snake bit as they were last season, either. Eight wins, with four of five coming in conference play, feels right.

5. Colorado (4-9, 1-8 Pac-12): If you want to wow your friends with your brave prognostications, make it this: Colorado will play in a bowl game this fall.

6. Arizona State (6-7, 4-5 Pac-12): Todd Graham had better hope this (entirely worthless) prediction doesn’t come true. After back-to-back 10-win seasons in 2013-14, falling to last place in the division would scratch the trigger finger of Sun Devils AD and former NFL executive Ray Anderson something fierce.