And finally, a few opportunities for me to look stupid as the game plays out in an entirely different manner from the way I'm projecting!
1. Chris McGaha will find the end zone. Sun Devils fans have been dying for this kid to find the end zone. I assure them: we can help. Texas has proven itself especially incompetent at stopping speedy white guys. ASU's coaches have no doubt seen video tape of last year's Alamo Bowl and this year's K-State game. I'm at the point where I'll be downright shocked if this kid scores fewer than two times against us.
2. Jermichael Finley will have a big game. While Jamaal Charles is Texas' most explosive offensive weapon, Finley may present the biggest matchup problem for the Sun Devils. That's true for most teams Texas plays, and Davis only remembers this about twice a season, but I'm guessing that with a month to get ready for this one, Finley will be an integral part of the game plan. Assuming he doesn't drop passes like he did against A&M, I'm expecting a nice night for him.
3. If either team picks up a special teams score, it will win. Texas' margin for error on defense is too slim to be giving up gobs of yardage - let alone scores - on special teams. On the flipside, Arizona State ranks in the bottom third nationally in kick coverage; if Texas can steal a big play or two on returns of their own, it'll go a long way towards picking up a win.
4. ASU fans will outnumber Texas fans in the stadium. The ASU athletic department sold their bank of tickets to this game within a week and had to direct Sun Devils supporters to the Texas office to hunt for extras. San Diego is easy enough to access from Tempe, and there's undoubtedly a healthy number of ASU grads living in San Diego/Southern California. I'm expecting a 65% or more share of the crowd for ASU.
5. John Chiles will play. Call it a hunch, but I think we're going to see John Chiles used in this football game. After the A&M letdown, I'm guessing Texas' coaches will be eager to Get Creative! in the season finale. If we're lucky, Chiles won't just be used on one or two gimmick plays, but will be creatively integrated into the game plan for a more systemic advantage.
6. Texas 38 Arizona State 37 There are so many reasons to pick ASU in this game. Perhaps more reasons than there are to pick the 'Horns. But I can't do it. Maybe I'm wishcasting, but I think the Texas offense can outgun the Sun Devils if it comes to that. Given our pass defense, it probably will come to that. And though my head says ASU should be the favorites in this one, I'm dreaming of a strong offensive performance from the 'Horns. Hey, I'm not a scientist - I'm a fan.
Enjoy the game everyone. Folks who will be in San Diego on either Wednesday night or Thursday for the game, email me if you want to get together. 54b and I will be staying at the Gaslamp Hilton and looking for