TEMPE, AZ - It might as well be the latest edition of “The Real World” on MTV. College students hailing from vastly disparate backgrounds all forced to co-exist within a single confined area.
Naturally, we’re talking about Arizona State hosting #20 Wisconsin on Saturday night at Sun Devil Stadium. The Pac-12 vs. the Big Ten. Speed vs. power. Desert dash meets Midwest mash.
ASU will spread out its offensive formations and attempt to run past defenders like pylons in a parking lot while snapping the football as quickly as possible. Wisconsin will point its facemask directly towards the defense, shift into low gear and become a bulldozer in shoulder pads.
It’s a contrast in styles and approach. The Badgers will try to wear you down. The Sun Devils will aim to wear you out.
With four nonconference games pitting the Pac-12 against the Big Ten, the only thing these two schools seemingly have in common is that both are coming off easy shutout wins against overmatched opponents. The Badgers jackstomped Massachusetts and Tennessee Tech by a combined score of 93-0 while the Devils humiliated FCS Sacramento State 55-0 in their opener.
In fact, how dominant has Wisconsin been to start the season? So overwhelming that Wisconsin has had a trio of 100-yard rushers in both of its opening games.
Hence, if you’re searching for a single key to this game, look no further than ASU’s ability to stop the run. If the Devils don’t show improvement from last season's woes, then it doesn’t stand much of a chance to post a win that would resonate on a national level.
Will the crowd be a factor? That’s the game plan. The game is expected to be a sellout and, if fans cooperate with an ASU request to wear black, it might just be a “blackout” as well.
Over the last five seasons, the Pac-12 owns a slight edge over the Big Ten: a 13-12 record in nonconference games and 4-3 in bowl games. Last year, the Pac-12 won four of the five meetings. Not to mention that the Pac-12 has won eight of the last nine Rose Bowls that featured matchups between the two conferences.
The only mark more impressive would be the fact that Arizona State is 8-0 all-time at Sun Devil Stadium against Big Ten teams.
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