By Mike Fasano
Half the fun of sports is talking about it. Fans talk about the player, the game, the matchup. And how could you talk about it if it wasn't for statistics. If there is one things sports fans love it is statistics. But hold your horses. Statistical matchups between the Knights and the Sun Devils won't come easy. These teams have no common opponents, they play in leagues separated by 3000 miles and, in fact, only one Big East team played a PAC 10 opponent all year long!
That one? That was back on September 17th when Louisville demolished PAC 10 middle-of-the-roader Oregon State by a score of 63-27.
Can't tell much by that. Getting a handle on the relative strengths of these two teams won't come easy. Here's all the Stats that I could find. Make of them what you will.
Arizona State 28
CBS Sportsline Rankings
Arizona State 35
Top 25 Votes (Coach's Poll)
Arizona State 0
Arizona State by 12
Arizona State 6-5
Sagaran Strength of Schedule
Arizona State 21st
Wins Over Bowl Bound Teams
Arizona State 52 Northwestern 21
Rutgers 31 Navy 21
Number 1 Ranked USC 38 Arizona State 28
Number 5 Ranked Oregon 31 Arizona State 17
Number 10 Ranked LSU 35 Arizona State 31
Number 17 Ranked UCLA 45 Arizona State 35
Number 11 Ranked West Virginia 27 Rutgers 14
NCAA Ranking Total Offense
Arizona State 4
NCAA Passing Offense
Arizona State 3
NCAA Ranking Rushing Offense
Arizona State 67
NCAA Ranking Scoring Offense
Arizona State 11
NCAA Ranking Passing Efficiency
Arizona State 6
NCAA Ranking Passes Had Intercepted
Arizona State 54
NCAA Ranking Third Down Conversion Percentage
Arizona State 8
NCAA Ranking Fourth Down Conversion Percentage
Arizona State 51
NCAA Ranking Total Defense
Arizona State 114
NCAA Ranking Passing Defense
Arizona State 109
NCAA Ranking Rushing Defense
Arizona State 91
NCAA Ranking Scoring Defense
Arizona State 83
NCAA Ranking Pass Efficiency Defense
Arizona State 97
NCAA Ranking Sacks
Arizona State 73
NCAA Ranking Tackles For Loss
Arizona State 36
NCAA Ranking Passes intercepted by
Arizona State 65
NCAA Ranking Third Down Conversion Percentage Defense
Arizona State 81
NCAA Ranking Fourth Down Conversion Percentage Defense
Arizona State 30
Special Teams Statistics
NCAA Ranking Net Punting
Arizona State 113
NCAA Ranking Punt Returns
Arizona State 8
NCAA Ranking Kickoff Return
Arizona State 5
NCAA Ranking Punt Return Defense
Arizona State 110
NCAA Ranking Kickoff Return Defense
Arizona State 41
Miscellaneous Team Statistics
NCAA Ranking Turnover Margin
Arizona State 24
NCAA Ranking Fewest Fumbles Lost
Arizona State 20
NCAA Ranking Fewest Penalties Per Game
Arizona State 114
NCAA Ranking Top 100 Offensive Players - Rushing
Keegan Herring, Arizona State, Rank 69
Ray Rice, Rutgers, Rank 44
Brian Leonard, Rutgers, Rank 92
NCAA Ranking Top 100 Offensive Players – Passing Efficiency
Ryan Hart, Rutgers, Rank 14
NCAA Ranking Top 100 Offensive Players – Total Offense
Ryan Hart, Rutgers, Rank 69
NCAA Ranking Top 100 Offensive Players – Receptions Per Game
Derek Hagan, Arizona State, Rank 20
Randy Burgess, Arizona State, Rank 56
Michael Thomas, Arizona State, Rank 65
Brian Leonard, Rutgers, Rank 74
NCAA Ranking Top 100 Defensive Players – Interceptions
Jamar Williams, Arizona State, Rank 60
Ron Girault, Rutgers, Rank 68
NCAA Ranking Top 100 Defensive Players – Tackles for Loss
Dale Robinson, Arizona State, Rank 30
Dewayne Holyfield, Arizona State, Rank 76
Ryan Neill, Rutgers, Rank 5
Rameel Meekins, Rutgers, Rank 30
Val Baranby, Rutgers, Rank 55
Okay, what can you tell from all of this?
Arizona State has a killer passing attack and they are scary deep at wide receiver. That doesn't bode well for the Knights who are more adept at defending the run than they are at defending the pass.
The Sun Devils are also battle tested against top competition. They have played a fierce schedule and were manhandled by no one.
On the other hand the Knights are the better balanced squad. While ASU relies on its passing attack to kill you, Rutgers does many things well both on offense and defense. A bad passing game for ASU would be fatal to them, not so for Rutgers.
On offense, RU has to mix it up. Use their balance on offense and keep the ball away from ASU.
On defense, Rutgers must get to ASU's QB and must do that consistently throughout the game. If ASU gets time to pass, it will be a long night for Rutgers. If the Rutgers pass rush throws the Sun Devils pass game out of sync – this is anyone's game since Rutgers will score against Arizona State and may score often.
My advice: On the first passing down run a blind side corner blitz and punish the ASU QB for throwing the ball. In fact, punish him early and often.
Get him to think about that.
Enjoy the stats, enjoy the game.
See you in Phoenix.