Eagles to Face Arizona State in the Aloha Bowl

For the second time in six years, the Boston Collge Eagles will be off to Hawaii for Christmas. The Eagles, who beat Kansas State 12-7 in the 1994 Aloha Bowl, will face Arizona State in this year's game on Christmas Day. Like the Eagles, the Sun Devils finished the regular season with a disappointing 6-5 record. Arizona State comes into this game having lost five of their last eight games, but played Top 25 opponents very tough over that stretch, losing by only six points to #4 Washington and by only one point to #11 Oregon.

Boston College/Arizona State Preview
Position by Position Matchup
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Aloha Bowl Matchup
Arizona State Freshman Jeff Krohn has improved over the course of the year, but Tim Hasselbeck has the experience. If Hasselbeck is healthy the edge goes to BC, otherwise advantage: Sun Devils.
Running Backs
An easy choice. The two best backs in this game both play for BC. ASU running backs Pace and Williams average just under 4.0 yards per carry as compared to the 5.4 average for BC's duo of Washington and Green.
Dedrick DeWalt has been the only consistent receiver for the Eagles in 2000, but ASU's Krohn has three legitimate "go to" guys to choose from. Receivers Williams and O'Neal and Pac Ten first-team tight end Todd Heap each caught at least 38 passes for more than 600 yards this season.
Offensive Line
The Devils can claim two All Pac Ten first-teamers on the o-line (Victor Leyva and Scott Peters) and one more on the second team (Levi Jones), but four of five Eagle offensive linemen received either first or second team Big East honors. As for protecting the quarterback, the Eagles surrendered only 6 sacks in 2000 as compared to a hefty 37 allowed by Arizona State.
Defensive Line
No doubt about it. The Eagles were horrible against the run this season, thanks to injuries, graduation, inexperience and some disappointing performances. Arizona State ranked only 74th in the nation against the run, but did a much better job pressuring the quarterback led by true freshman DE Terrell Suggs, whose 10 sacks helped him become Pac Ten Freshman of the Year. All told, ASU sacked opposing quarterbacks 35 times in 2000, 14 more than the Eagles.
BC had a very difficult time at linebacker this season, providing little help to the beleaguered defensive line. Meanwhile, Sun Devil Senior outside linebacker Adam Archuleta piled up 119 tackes - 86 of them solo - on his way to becoming the Pac Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
Defensive Backs
BC's top ten national ranking against the pass is a bit misleading because Eagle opponents were able to run so easily, but the Eagle secondary was a solid unit in 2000 led by Jonathan Ordway and Lenny Walls. Arizona State ranked 91st in the nation against the pass, surrendering a whopping 234 yards per game despite a pass rush that accumulated 35 sacks.
Kicking Game
This one is too close to call. Mike Sutphin, who converted 12 of 14 field goals edges out Sun Devil placekicker Mike Barth who made only 15 of 23 attempts. Both kickers were very accurate on kicks of less than 40 yards (Sutphin 10 of 12, Barth 10 of 11). Arizona State's Mike Murphy wins the battle of the punters averaging 41.1 yards per punt, a notch better than Kevin McMyler's 39.7 average.
Special Teams
Both Arizona State and Boston College were outplayed by their opponents on special teams. Both teams gave up more than 20 yards per kickoff return this season, though none went for touchdowns. Each team was able to score one touchdown via the punt return in 2000. Arizona State allowed two opponents to return punts for TDs, compared to three for BC. Based on what I saw from BC against Miami, the edge has to go to Arizona State.
It looks like we should be in for a high-scoring, tightly-contested game on Christmas Day. The BC pass defense has done poorly against teams with multiple pass receiving threats and the run defense has failed to stop any decent team all season. That all bodes well for Arizona State's balanced offense. On the other side of the ball, Tim Hasselbeck (if healthy) should be able to throw all day against a weak Sun Devil secondary, assuming that the Eagles can contain the pass rush of Terrell Suggs. The key to BC's running attack will be the ability to put a helmet on Archuleta and Bates. If they aren't a factor, BC should be able to run the ball effectively.
Prediction: Tim Hasselbeck's Senior leadership will prove to be the key in a 34-31 Eagles victory.

Arizona State Links
Official Site
WiredDevils.com (unofficial)
SunDevil.com (unofficial)
2000 Schedule
2000 Roster
2000 Statistics
Aloha Bowl Site
Arizona State History

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