FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Stadium (68,349) -- Columbia, Missouri. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Arizona State 2-0, Missouri 1-1. Away Record: Arizona State 0-0, Missouri 0-0. Neutral Record: Arizona State 0-0, Missouri 0-0. Conference Record: Arizona State 0-0, Missouri 0-1. Series Record: Tied 3-3.
GAME NOTES: Todd Graham will make his first road appearance as head coach for Arizona State when the Sun Devils head to Columbia to take on the Missouri Tigers at Memorial Stadium.
The Todd Graham era at ASU has gotten off to a very good start as the Sun Devils come into this game 2-0 and with an offense that has posted scores of 63 and 45 in consecutive weeks. On Saturday the Sun Devils routed Illinois 45-14 to get revenge from a 17-14 loss on the road last season. Graham is now just the seventh Arizona State coach to start his career 2-0 and one of six coaches in 2012 to accomplish the feat.
Missouri got its first taste of SEC action in week 2 and although the outcome was not desirable, the 41-20 loss to nationally ranked Georgia did have some bright spots. The Tigers led 10-9 at the half and hung around in the game before being worn down and allowing 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. In its history, Missouri is 24-16-1 all-time against SEC opponents.
These two squads met in Tempe last season in week one of the season. The Sun Devils pulled out the victory in overtime, 37-30. The win evened the all-time series up at 3-3. Now that Missouri is a member of the SEC, Arizona State has a chance to rectify an all-time record of 0-5 against schools from the conference.
For the second straight week Arizona State was able to pile up yards and points on offense, as Graham's new system continues to pay dividends. In the win over Illinois the Sun Devils finished with 510 total yards and 45 points. Arizona State currently ranks fourth in the Pac-12 in yards per game (532) and leads the conference in scoring (54.0 ppg). For a team with so much firepower, Arizona State has relied on a more balanced attack with 567 total yards through the air and 497 on the ground.
That balance was in full effect against Illinois as the Sun Devils rushed for 192 yards and also put up 318 yards in the passing game. That included a hefty 13.8 yards-per-completion average. Taylor Kelly completed 18-of-24 passes for 249 yards before he was relieved by Michael Eubank, who was a perfect 5-for-5, with a pair of touchdown passes.
Tight ends have yet to see the rise in usage that the NFL has in recent seasons,, but Chris Coyle didn't seem to notice as he pulled in 10 passes for 131 yards and two scores in the game. It was the highest reception total by a Arizona State tight end since 1999.
Both the offense and defense showed a great amount of discipline in the game with only one penalty for five yards over the entire game.
With the offense running on all cylinders, the defense was able to relax a bit and in doing so allowed 332 total yards to the Illini but only 14 points. The Sun Devils collected three interceptions in the game to limit the scoring and kept Illinois out of scoring position for most of the game. allowing only two trips to the red zone.
The defense also applied pressure all game long on the way to a six-sack performance led by Carl Bradford, who had 2.5 quarterback takedowns in the contest. Carlos Mendoza collected two of the team's interceptions and helped make up for the loss of Brandon Magee, who was sidelined with concussion symptoms.
Missouri showed flashes of the explosiveness its spread offense has become known for in recent years in the loss to Georgia. The team's first touchdown of the game came on a 41-yard strike from James Franklin to Marcus Lucas and the team also scored on a three-play, 70-yard drive in the third quarter that took only 46 seconds. Still, the Tigers were inconsistent and finished with 371 total yards and more importantly only 20 points.
The play calling was balanced (41 pass, 39 run) but the yardage differential was hard to ignore. James Franklin threw for all 269 yards and both of the team's scores while the running game managed 102 yards with no back gaining more than 43 yards. Franklin carried the ball a team-high 20 times for 65 yards but ended with only 25 net yards by losing 40 yards in negative plays.
Marcus Lucas (88 yards) and L'Damian Washington (81 yards) showed their big play ability in the losing effort with each catching touchdown passes of at least 40 yards, including Washington's 69-yarder in the third quarter.
If Missouri could have had the same success on defense in the second half as it did in the first, against Georgia the outcome may have been a bit different. Unfortunately after holding the Bulldogs to only nine points in the first two quarters, the Missouri defense was lit up for 32 points over the last two. The unit limited Georgia to 355 yards, but allowed too many sustained drives with the Bulldogs making five successful trips to the red zone.
Will Ebner led the team with nine tackles in the game and Brad Madison picked up a pair of sacks to highlight the defensive effort. Madison needs only 1.5 more sacks to reach the top-10 in program history.
Arizona State has enjoyed the comforts of playing at home and has been able to pour it on offensively in the first two weeks. Missouri doesn't have the defense to slow the Sun Devils, but Missouri does have the high-powered offense to keep pace. With the added advantage of hosting this contest, the Tigers should end up with a win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Missouri 42, Arizona State 34Game Date and Time
Saturday, September 15, 7:00 p.m. (et)