Since 2004, the Red Raiders have started every football season 2-0, except last year. Arizona State topped Texas Tech 68-55 to end the streak.
Now the Red Raiders (1-0) get another chance as Arizona State (1-1) comes to town Saturday night for a 7pm kickoff at Jones AT&T Stadium. It's the Celebrate Cotton Game so wear white.
Everyone remembers Kalen Ballage tied an NCAA record scoring 8 touchdowns in the game. What's forgotten is how good ASU QB Manny Wilkins was as he went 28-37 for 351 yards. Red Raider Coach Kliff Kingsbury remembers his play.
"Yeah, I think last year he probably played one of the best games we had played against us as far as accuracy and moving around, extending plays and not turning the ball over. I thought he had a heck of a game last year, and he looks good this year. I know they had a couple protection lapses here and there the first two games, but he can get out and he can hurt you with his legs. He's an accurate passer, so I'm really impressed with him."
The Red Raider Defense knows Wilkins will be a challenge and Jah'Shawn Johnson says he's double trouble.
"He's a dual-threat quarterback. From this year since the first two games he's been more of trying to throw the ball and stay in the pocket and protect himself more. But last year of course he was jumping over guys and things like that. But he's a great athlete, and I mean, he has great receivers and great backs behind him to help him. I mean, their offense is dominant just about everywhere."
Arizona State is coming off a loss to San Diego State and while they saw Patrick Mahomes last year, Sun Devils Coach Todd Graham knows Nic Shimonek will do a great job running the Red Raiders offense.
"The guy they got right now is very very capable. He does a very good job extending the play. Big strong arm. Makes all the throws. Very good receivers. They have a really good running back, number 4 from last year. The key against them is to throw a lot of screens at a lot of spots to receivers. You have to tackle well in space and keep things in front of you. You have to get takeaways. They are going to go fast and run a lot of plays. We are familiar playing this system. It still doesn't make it any easier."
The Red Raiders are favored by 7 and a half.
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