Texas A&M uses AZ recruits to beat ASU football, 38-17

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                </div>  First, Texas A&M snatched a couple of Arizona’s top prep football recruits, then last night head coach Kevin Sumlin used them to beat up on the Arizona State Sun […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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First, Texas A&M snatched a couple of Arizona’s top prep football recruits, then last night head coach Kevin Sumlin used them to beat up on the Arizona State Sun Devils in the 2015 season opener.

And to add insult to injury, the Aggies’ 38-17 win may have also stolen ASU’s ticket to the College Football Playoffs.

Kyle Allen, the Aggies’ starting quarterback as a sophomore, was Arizona’s No. 1 recruit coming out of Scottsdale’s Desert Mountain High School in 2013.  He threw for 198 yards and two touchdowns last night in directing an Aggie offensive attack that ran up 425 total yards.

Christian Kirk was last year’s AZ Republic Division I Player of the Year and also the state’s No. 1 college prospect. The wide receiver played at another Scottsdale school, Saguaro High School, where he set a new state record with 52 career touchdowns and pulled in 203 receptions.  He finished his prep career with 2,698 yards rushing and another 3,943 yards receiving.

Kirk caught six passes last night for 101 yards, but it was a 79-yard punt return for a score in the first quarter that put his team up by two touchdowns, brought Aggie fans to their feet, and created a deficit that ASU was never able to overcome.

But the most devastating blow by the local duo came with just under four minutes to play and ASU down just one score at 24-17.  Allen tossed a pass in the flat to Kirk, who dodged and weaved his way through ASU defenders for 66 yards and the score that would put the game out of reach.

Kirk had ASU on his final short list when trying to pick a college, but had always wanted to be able to play in the SEC.  So he decided to follow Allen to College Station and leave the Grand Canyon State behind.  It was a decision that came back to haunt ASU head coach Todd Graham, whose team could have really used the youngster this season when more than one college analyst had predicted the Sun Devils to have a serious shot at getting into the four-team College Football Playoff (CFP).

When you lose a five-star recruit like these two were, you just hope they don’t go to another team in your conference.  In this case they didn’t, but it still came back to bite Graham in the butt.

Now, after knocking off the No. 15 team in the nation in impressive fashion, Texas A&M is the team being included in CFP discussion.  The Aggies took away an ASU running game that was expected to be explosive again this year, holding the Devils to just 92 total yards rushing.  Credit that to a revamped defense put together by John Chavis, one of the college game’s best defensive coordinators who left LSU to join Sumlin’s staff this season.

Actually, neither team could put together much of an offensive threat until the Aggies erupted in the fourth quarter with 162 total yards and three touchdowns.

And they manhandled and corralled ASU quarterback Mike Bercovici, who some considered a dark-horse possibility for Heisman consideration based on his record-setting performance last season, sacking the senior nine times and holding him to 199 yards passing on 41 attempts.

An illness had dropped sophomore running back Kalen Ballage from last night’s line-up, so the work load fell on Damario Richard, the other sophomore back who had 16 carries, but finished the game with just 73 net yards rushing.  And D.J. Foster, who was the team’s leading rusher last year before being converted to slot receiver this season, managed just 13 yards rushing and 48 yards on six catches.

This was not the start to a very promising season that Graham and his staff had envisioned.  Nor the fans, for that matter.  But the only upside to the loss was that it was the first game, which is often dismissed by the time bowl bids are being considered in November, and it has absolutely no bearing on whether the Sun Devils will compete for the Pac-12 title.

In fact, it doesn’t even mean ASU is out of the CFP picture.  All four of the teams that make it to the playoffs could easily have one loss on their schedules.

But it will take some impressive wins going forward to put them back into that conversation.

And no more losses.

(Photo: ASU Athletics)