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Football heads to Madison to face Wisconsin Badgers

September 13, 2010

Game Three at Wisconsin

After a 41-20 win over in-state rival Northern Arizona, the Sun Devils of Arizona State hit the road for the first time in 2010. ASU will travel to Madison, Wisconsin for a match-up with the Big 10’s Wisconsin Badgers on Sept. 18 from Camp Randall Stadium. The Devils put their aerial attack on display against the Lumberjacks, as Steven Threet threw for 391 yards and three scores in the win. Wisconsin enters the game 2-0 and ranked #11 following its 27-14 win over San Jose State.

ON THE AIR: The ISP-Sun Devil Sports Network will carry all 12 of ASU’s football games live on their 10-station radio network, including flagship station Sports 620 KTAR AM. Tim Healey (play-by-play) and former Sun Devil quarterback Jeff Van Raaphorst (color analyst) will call the action. The Wisconsin game will be simulcast on 620 AM and 92.3 FM. The game can also be heard on Sirius/XM radio.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: ABC will televise the Sun Devils match-up with the Badgers. Mike Patrick and Craig James will call the action from the booth.

SUN DEVILS VS. BADGERS: Arizona State and Wisconsin have faced off twice before in their history, with both match-ups happening over 40 years ago. ASU won the first meeting 42-16 in Madison in 1967, then beat the Badgers 55-7 in 1968 in Tempe. Frank Kush was coaching the Sun Devils in those victories.

COACH ERICKSON VS. WISCONSIN: Head Coach Dennis Erickson is 2-0 all-time against Wisconsin. His Wyoming Cowboys won 21-12 in Madison in 1986 and his Miami Hurricanes opened their season in Madison in 1989. The third ranked Canes beat the Badgers 51-3 on their way to an 11-1 record and National Championship.

ASU AND THE BIG 10: The Sun Devils are 14-5 against schools who currently play in the Big 10 Conference. The last time ASU faced a team from the Big 10 was 2005, when the Sun Devils beat Northwestern 52-21 in Tempe. Indiana is the only Big 10 school ASU has never faced. ASU’s last trip to a Big 10 school was a 30-21 win at Northwestern in 2004.

CAPTAINS: Jon Hargis, Omar Bolden, Thomas Weber and Gerald Munns have been named the captains of the 2010 Sun Devil football team.

NEXT UP: Arizona State returns home to open Pac-10 play when they host the Oregon Ducks at Frank Kush Field/Sun Devil Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 25.

NORTHERN ARIZONA RECAP: For the second straight week the Sun Devil offense started off slow, but once the aerial attack got going, NAU was unable to stop it. ASU beat the Lumberjacks 41-20 behind career nights from QB Steven Threet and WR Mike Willie. Threet threw for 391 yards, 114 of those to Willie, who also caught one of three TD passes from Threet. The Sun Devil defense held NAU to only 238 yards of total offense, as ASU outscored the Jacks 24-10 in the second half to pull away with the win.

• Cornerback Deveron Carr recorded his first career interception. ASU has five INTs on the season.
• Wide Receiver Mike Willie finished with 114 yards receiving, the second straight week ASU has had a 100-yard receiver.
• The Sun Devils started just one senior on offense (Kerry Taylor) and just two on defense (Dean DeLeone and Bo Moos).
• Bo Moos and Evan Finkenberg made their first career starts. 

• For the second straight week, ASU’s opponent scored first. That happened eight times in 2009.

CAREER NIGHT FOR THREET: Quarterback Steven Threet had a huge game against Northern Arizona, establishing new career highs in several categories. Threet went 33-49 for 391 yards, with three touchdowns, all career highs. His previous highs: 18-35 for 250 yards in Michigan’s loss to Illinois on October 4, 2008. His previous career high in touchdown passes was two, which he had done three times, including the season opener against Portland State.

WHERE THERE’S A WILLIE...: Junior wide receiver Mike Willie had a huge game for the Sun Devils, catching eight passes for 114 yards and a score in his second career game. Of his eight receptions, seven resulted in first down yardage for Arizona State, including three on third down and one on fourth. His other reception was the touchdown catch.

KERRY THE LOAD: Senior Kerry Taylor had a career night against the Lumberjacks, equaling his career high with six catches. He gained 72 yards and scored a touchdown, his first touchdown since November 15, 2008 against Washington State. Taylor also had six receptions at Oregon State on November 1, 2008.

SPREADING THE WEALTH: The 2010 Arizona State offense has many weapons, and so far through the first two games they are showing all of them off. ASU has completed 54 passes so far, with 13 different receivers making catches. Aaron Pflugrad leads the team with his 12 catches for 134 yards, with Mike Willie right behind him with 10 receptions for 126 yards and a score. Even center Garth Gerhart has gotten in on the action, making his first career reception against NAU off a deflection. 15 different people caught passes for ASU all of last season.

DEBUT DEVILS: 25 student-athletes have seen their first action at Arizona State in 2010: Brice Schwab, Aaron Pflugrad, Steven Threet, Mike Willie, Junior Onyeali, Kyle Middlebrooks, Eddie Elder, Shane McCullen, Max Smith, Chris Coyle, George Bell, Deantre Lewis, Osahon Irabor, Brandon Johnson, Alden Darby, Lee Adams, Evan Finkenberg, Matt Tucker, Aderious Simmons, J.J. Holliday, Cameron Kastl, Kody Koebensky, Jarrid Bryant, Grandville Taylor and R.J. Robinson.

FIRST STARTS: Nine Sun Devil started for the first time in maroon and gold against Portland State: Brice Schwab (RG), Aaron Pflugrad (WR), Steven Threet (QB), Mike Willie (WR), Jamarr Robinson (DE), Mike Marcisz (RT), Jamaar Jarrett (DE), Shelly Lyons (LB) and Eddie Elder (S). In addition, Dan Knapp made his first career start on the offensive line, lining up at left tackle. Knapp started 9 games at tight end over the past two seasons. Both Evan Finkenberg (RG) and Bo Moos (DT) made their first career starts against NAU.

THREE AND OUT: The 2009 ASU Defense was one of the top teams in the nation to force opposing offensives into three-and-out possessions. The Sun Devils averaged 3.75 three-and-outs a game, for a total of 45 in their 12 contests. The D picked that right back up in 2010, forcing opponents into 10 three-and-outs over the first two weeks,

PUSH ‘EM BACK, PUSH ‘EM BACK: In 2009, the Sun Devil defense routinely made tackles for loss or for no gain. The defense finished 2009 with 120 plays that went for negative or no yards, totaling 292 yards lost for the offense. The Sun Devils were a negative play machine against Washington State on October 10, recording 26 Cougar plays to go for a loss or for no gain. The defense has continued that trend in 2010. Against NAU they forced 12 plays of negative or no gain for 13 yards in losses.

RUN, SPARKY, RUN: Last season, the Sun Devil rushing game totaled 24 runs of 10 yards or more, including two of 50 or more. So far in 2010, the Devils have had eight runs of 10 yards or more, including Cameron Marshall’s 50-yard touchdown run against Portland State. Marshall owned the longest run from scrimmage in 2009, going 75-yards against Washington.

BUILDING NUMBERS: Wideout T.J. Simpson had three catches for 79 yards against Northern Arizona. Entering the NAU game, Simpson had only seven career receptions for 106 yards in his two seasons in Maroon and Gold.

GREAT START: Quarterback Steven Threet made his first career start for ASU against Portland State, and what a debut it was. The Michigan transfer, who started eight games for the Wolverines in 2008, was 14-21 for 239 yards and two scores in just under two and a half quarters. The 239 yards was the third highest total for a Sun Devil QB making his first ASU start since 1993. Only Rudy Carpenter (401) and Sam Keller (370) threw for more, and they both played all four quarters. Threet’s QB rating of 184.17 was the second highest, second only to Carpenter’s 207.6. Threet’s 239 yards in his first career action at ASU also set a new ASU record for most passing yards by a Sun Devil QB in his first ever game action at ASU.

NO SMALL CATCH: Wide receiver Brandon Smith caught a nine yard pass from Brock Osweiler in the fourth quarter against Portland State. While it may seem insignificant at first glance, it was anything but. It was Smith’s first catch since October 25, 2008, a span of 17 games between receptions. During that time, he suffered a major knee injury, was granted a medical redshirt and graduated from Arizona State. After playing in 11 games in 2006, Smith appeared in just one from 2007 to 2009.

SENIOR CLASS: ASU has just 13 seniors on its roster this year, its fewest since the 1985 squad had just 10, which was the year prior to ASU winning the Pac-10 title and the Rose Bowl. ASU’s 2007 Pac-10 title team had 27 seniors, while its 1996 undefeated regular season and Pac-10 title squad had 22. The 1986 Pac-10 and Rose Bowl champion team had 18. The 2010 and 1985 Sun Devils are the only ASU teams to have a dozen or fewer seniors in the past 35 seasons (1976-2010). How odd is it to only have 13 seniors? Digest this...the St. John’s BASKETBALL team is scheduled to have nine this year. The 13 is the smallest senior class in the Pac-10.

RACKING UP YARDS: The Sun Devils ran for 242 yards in the season opener against Portland State, including Cameron Marshall’s 104 yards. The 242 yards was the most since October 13, 2007 against Washington, when ASU, led by Ryan Torain, ran for 296 yards.

THROWING IT AROUND: Through the first two games in 2009, Arizona State quarterbacks had combined to throw for 428 yards and two touchdowns. Through two games this season, Steven Threet has thrown for 630 yards and five scores.

WEBER LOOKS TO CEMENT HIS LEGACY: After an injury-plagued 2009 season that never saw him recover from an early season hip injury, kicker Thomas Weber looks to cement his legacy in the ASU record books during his senior season. The Downey, Calif. product has been stellar throughout his Sun Devil career, connecting on 52-63 (83%) field goal attempts. He made 43 field goals during his first two seasons in Maroon and Gold, the most ever by a Sun Devil kicker over the first two years of his career. He broke the record held by Luis Zendejas, who had 40 field goals in his first two seasons. The winner of the 2007 Lou Groza Award, presented annually to the nation’s top placekicker, a First-Team All-American by the Associated Press and a First-Team All-Pac-10 honoree, Weber was sensationally consistent during his freshman season, connecting on 24-of-25 field goals (96.0 pct.), with a long of 53 yards. A three-time Pac-10 Conference Special Teams Player of the Week in 2007, Weber set numerous Sun Devil records in only his first college season, including a record streak of 17 made field goal attempts to begin the year (also a nation-leading streak for the season) and a nation-high accuracy rating. Weber ranked first in the Pac-10, fifth in the nation and tied the Sun Devil single-season record for points by kicking (118) set by Mike Barth as a senior in 2002, while also placing sixth in the country with 1.85 made field goals per game. A sharpshooter off the kicking tee and in the classroom, Weber has earned Academic All-Pac-10 honors three times, earning First Team in 2007, Second Team in 2008 and honorable mention last year.Weber has scored 268 points in his ASU career, good for fourth most in school history. He is second place all-time in school history for made field goals, passing Jesse Ainsworth with his 52-yarder against Portland State.

EXTRA TIME: Wide Receiver Brandon Smith was granted an extra year of eligibility for 2010 after missing all of 2009 with a knee injury. The 6-2 senior played in one game over the past three seasons, battling injuries off and on throughout his ASU career. In 2006 he played in 11 games, making six catches for 167 yards and two touchdowns. Cornerback Omar Bolden was also granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA after missing the majority of last season with an injury. Bolden returned the opening kickoff of the game against ULM 89 yards for a touchdown, but suffered an injury on the return and was severely limited over the next two games before shutting it down for the season. He will enter 2010 as a junior with two seasons left to play.

HOME SWEET HOME: Arizona State has won 248 games at Sun Devil Stadium, two shy of 250. The Sun Devils hold an all-time mark of 248-87-3 at Sun Devil Stadium since it opened in 1958.

WINNING TRADITION: Since 1950, Arizona State football has the 14th-highest winning percentage among FBS schools. Over the past 59 years, ASU has a 439-224-8 record for a winning percentage of .660. Ohio State is the national leader with a .759 winning percentage.

GREAT SUCCESS: Fourth-year head coach Dennis Erickson has a career record of 169-83-1, including two National Championships, for a winning percentage of .670 over his 21 years as an FBS head coach. That’s sixth among active coaches with at least 10 years experience at a school in FBS. Bob Stoops is the national leader with a .804 winning percentage in 11 years at Oklahoma.

HALL OF FAME: Pat Tillman has been selected to the College Football Hall of Fame as a member of the Hall’s Class of 2010. Tillman now joins former Sun Devil coaches Dan Devine, Frank Kush and John Cooper and student-athletes defensive back Mike Haynes, wide receiver John Jefferson, offensive lineman Randall McDaniel, linebacker Ron Pritchard and quarterback Danny White as representatives of Arizona State University in the College Football Hall of Fame.  In all, ASU has nine former football coaches or student-athletes in the College Football Hall of Fame.

PAC-10 PREDICTIONS: Arizona State has been picked to finish ninth in the Pac-10 in the annual Media Poll. Oregon, who visits Sun Devil Stadium on September 25, was picked to win the conference crown.

EXPERIENCE: Defensive Coordinator Craig Bray and Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone boast a combined 67 years of both college and pro coaching experience, the fifth most experienced coaching duo in the nation.