First look: Arizona State Sun Devils

No. 11 UCLA Bruins (3-0) vs. No. 15 Arizona State Sun Devils (3-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. PT, Sun Devil Stadium (Tempe, Ariz.)
TV: FOX Sports 1

Coach: Remember when Todd Graham looked like the biggest turncoat in college football?

A little more than a year ago, ESPN’s anonymous poll of 92 college football players found that 14 percent said Graham was the last coach they’d want to play for — beating out Lane Kiffin by three percent.

But Graham only needed two seasons to win a Pac-12 South title, endearing himself to the Arizona State fan base and pushing his messy departure from Pitt deeper into the newspaper archives. ASU has compensated him handsomely for that success — paying him around $800,000 in performance bonuses for the 2013 season.

Key players:

QB Mike Bercovici, Jr., 6-1, 200 — 9/17, 79 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 7 carries, 12 rushing yards
– Once considered Brock Osweiler’s heir apparent until Taylor Kelly won out, Bercovici finally gets his chance to start in the wake of Kelly’s foot injury. He’s not the same type of running threat as Kelly (ASU’s second-leading rusher at 19 carries for 168 yards) but Bercovici has a strong arm and has been in the program for years.

RB D.J. Foster, Jr., 5-11, 205 — 54 carries, 510 rushing yards, 5 TD, 11 catches, 139 receiving yards, 1 TD
– Looks like a workhorse back capable of racking up yards after contact. Averages 216.3 all-purpose yards per game, good for second in the country and one spot ahead of Georgia’s Heisman candidate Todd Gurley. Continue reading

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Jim Mora: No status update on Brett Hundley’s elbow injury

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley (17) watches action against UCLA from the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 13,  2014, in Arlington, Texas. He left the game after an injury in the first half. (AP/Tony Gutierrez)

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley (17) watches from the sideline on Sept. 13, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. He the Bruins’ eventual 20-17 win after a first-quarter elbow injury. (AP/Tony Gutierrez)

After injuring his left elbow early in UCLA’s 20-17 win over Texas, star quarterback Brett Hundley’s status won’t be official one way or another until the Bruins take the field again.

“I’m not going to tell anybody anything until kickoff versus Arizona State,” head coach Jim Mora said Sunday. “Nobody. Nothing.”

Hundley reportedly suffered a slight hyperextension of his left (non-throwing) elbow that will hold him out one week, but Mora said the redshirt junior had not yet had his MRI. He may be examined on Monday, but Mora didn’t give a firm schedule.

UCLA (3-0) has a bye week ahead, and will travel to Tempe to play the Sun Devils on Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. PT. That’s ideal timing for the Bruins, which can now give its Heisman contender more time to recover — as well as give backup Jerry Neuheisel more practice reps if needed to fill in. Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: Arizona State’s Chip Sarafin comes out as gay

» Arizona State offensive lineman Chip Sarafin came out on Wednesday, becoming first openly gay active player in Division I football.

» Redshirt freshman Anu Solomon is trying to win Arizona’s starting quarterback — something that would require beating out transfers from USC, LSU and Texas.

» The Ice Bucket Challenge has helped raise $2.3 million for the national ALS association since July 29, and UCLA coach Jim Mora accepted a challenge to join yesterday:

» Washington State crossed the Idaho border for training camp, but wildfires forced the Cougars back to Pullman. Continue reading

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Which players have the best names in the Pac-12?

By now, you’ve read many of the lists that have proliferated in college football’s dry summer months. The best 100 players. The freakiest players. The best coaches, best offseasons, best uniforms.

But this? This is the most important of them all. With Pac-12 Media Days — schedule here — kicking off this morning, I have compiled the five best names from each team in the conference.

Without further ado …

Arizona: Sir Thomas Jackson, Antonio Smothers, Tra’Mayne Bondurant, Brogan Kemmerly, Abraham Mendivil

Not great depth here, as the latter two names sacrifice catchiness in favor of length. Still, Sir Thomas Jackson alone is an MVP candidate.

Arizona State: Ezekial Bishop, Demetrius Cherry, Zane Gonzalez, Jaxon Hood, Philip “Scooby” Wright III

Would be better if Scooby’s real first name weren’t Phillip, but otherwise still a solid quintet that lacks a superstar.

Cal: Hardy Nickerson, Avery Sebastian, Bryce Treggs, Brennan Scarlett, Maximo Espitia

A nice throwback in Hardy Nickerson, bookended by a name that makes me want to re-watch Russell Crowe take on a despotic Joaquin Phoenix. Continue reading

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Zach LaVine bedevils Arizona State in UCLA’s blowout win

Welcome back, Zach.

After a mini-slump doused the fiery start to his UCLA career, freshman guard Zach LaVine shot back with a vengeance on Sunday night, keying the Bruins to a 87-72 win over Arizona State.

There were the customary dunks, including a vicious windmill that had all of Pauley Pavilion holding his breath as he hung in the air. There was the 3-point range, rediscovered as he drilled his first three attempts. Continue reading

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Pac-12 opponents vote Xavier Su’a-Filo top offensive lineman

If you ask those who play against him, Xavier Su’a-Filo is the best offensive lineman in the Pac-12. The UCLA junior won the Morris Trophy Thursday, an award voted on by opposing defensive lineman — and an honor that pushes him out of the shadow of another conference guard.

Stanford’s David Yankey has been widely regarded as the position’s standard bearer this season, not only in the league but arguably across all of college football. With a year of eligibility left, the 6-foot-5, 313-pounder earned unanimous All-American honors this year — the eighth player in Cardinal history to do so.

Su’a-Filo was a second-team AP All-American, but was forced to move from left guard to left tackle to help patch a battered Bruins’ line. He has not yet decided whether or not to declare for the 2014 NFL draft.

Arizona State tackle Will Sutton won the defensive Morris Trophy, as voted on by opposing offensive lineman.

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Pac-12 links: Who will head to the Rose Bowl?

– Why Stanford will beat Arizona State for a Rose Bowl berth, according to the Bay Area News Group’s Jon Wilner.

– Steve Sarkisian has already hired two members of his Washington staff. Might defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox be the next to head to USC?

– An older man kicked a younger man in the face at last week’s Territorial Cup game between ASU and Arizona. Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: No bowl tickets for rude Washington State fans

– If you sent Washington State athletic director Bill Moos a particularly nasty email last year, you might not be able to buy bowl tickets.

– Trying to earn home field advantage for the Pac-12 title game, Arizona State and Todd Graham are learning to deal with the limelight.

– Still undecided about his NFL draft plans, Washington tailback Bishop Sankey is on the brink of the school’s single-season rushing record. Continue reading

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UCLA falls eight spots to No. 22 in polls

UCLA’s loss to Arizona State dropped the Bruins all the way down to No. 22 in both the Associated Press and USA Today coaches polls — just one spot ahead of USC.

The rivals face off at the Coliseum at 5 p.m. Saturday, with the Trojans opening as 3.5-point favorites.

After Oregon’s upset loss to Arizona, No. 8 Stanford now stands as the Pac-12′s lone top-10 team. The Ducks and ASU sit at 12th and 13th, respectively.

The full AP poll after the jump: Continue reading

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