No. 18 ASU has improved mightily in recent years — but enough to win at Utah?

Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels looks on before a game with Colorado Sat, Sept 25, 2021, in Tempe, Ariz.

Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels looks on before a game with Colorado Sat, Sept 25, 2021, in Tempe, Ariz. The talented signal-caller will lead the Sun Devils into battle against the Utes Saturday night in Salt Lake City. | Darryl Webb, Associated Press

ASU has come a long way in the past two years. Emblematic of that ascension is its dynamic dual-threat quarterback, Jayden Daniels

The last time Arizona State visited Rice-Eccles Stadium, almost exactly two years ago, Utah was a veteran team on its way to an 11-win season and the second of back-to-back Pac-12 South titles.

In that 2019 game, the inexperienced Sun Devils were ranked No. 17 and the Utes were No. 13. Utah won, 21-3, and the Sun Devils finished the season with a 4-5 record in the Pac-12.

As the two programs meet again Saturday (8 p.m. MDT, ESPN), No. 18 Arizona State (5-1, 3-0) is looking to take control of the Pac-12 South race.

ASU’s remaining opponents in the regular season are Washington State, USC, Washington, Oregon State and Arizona. Saturday’s game at Utah could be Arizona State’s most difficult test left on its schedule.

“Another Pac-12 game. Anything can happen,” ASU coach Herm Edwards said of this week’s matchup. “Very physical football team in all three phases of football. Very well coached. There’s a blend of young, talented players on both sides.”

If the Sun Devils can beat the Utes (3-2, 2-0) — they’ve lost two of the last three meetings played in Salt Lake City — they can make a strong argument that they’re the best team overall in the Pac-12.

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“Arizona State is a good football team — first-place in the Pac-12 South at 3-0. They’re solid across the board,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “Their quarterback is dynamic. They’re very balanced on offense. Good running back, good receiving corps, the offensive line is playing well. Defensively, they’re playing well. There really is not a weakness that you can pick apart. We’ve got to play exceptional football this weekend. It should be, hopefully, a great matchup.”

ASU has come a long way in the past two years. Emblematic of that ascension is quarterback Jayden Daniels. In 2019, he was a talented freshman still learning how to play at the college level.

Now, Daniels is among the best in the country in total offense. He’s rolled up 1,638 yards on the ground and through the air this season. Daniels has completed 96 of 137 passes for 1,262 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions. The junior has rushed 55 times for 369 yards and three TDs.

Mark J. Terrill, Associated Press
Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels gestures during a game against UCLA Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in Pasadena, Calif. Arizona State won 42-23. Next up for the Devils is Utah Saturday night at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

“He’s had two more years of experience. That’s probably the biggest thing. His style of play has not changed. He’s dynamic and he’s …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News

      

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