Arizona State running back Kalen Ballage tied the NCAA record of eight touchdowns when he last saw Texas Tech defenders and looks for another productive outing when the Sun Devils visit the Red Raiders on Saturday. Ballage rushed for seven scores and also caught one in last season’s 68-55 victory over Texas Tech while tying the single-game touchdown mark held by Illinois’ Howard Griffith (1990).
Ballage, a senior, departed last Saturday’s loss to San Diego State with an unspecified injury but described it as “bumps and bruises” during an interview session in which his epic outing against the Red Raiders was the main topic of conversation. “It was cool and everything, but as a whole, it’s a year ago,” Ballage told reporters. “It’s time to just get over that. I’ve been hearing about it for a year. I’m looking forward to the next thing coming.” Texas Tech has a revamped defense, and the unit will certainly be looking for No. 7 after Ballage rang up 137 yards on 13 rushes last season. “I think obviously any time somebody scores eight touchdowns on you, you’re going to know about it,” Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury said at a news conference. “But I think they understand this is a new defense, two teams in a new year, so last year doesn’t mean anything really.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN. LINE: Texas Tech -7.5
ABOUT ARIZONA STATE (1-1): Ballage (123 yards, three touchdowns this season) appears set to play, while sidekick Demario Richard (knee) is expected back after missing the San Diego State contest with a leg injury. Richard, a senior, ranks 12th in school history with 2,171 rushing yards, and he and Ballage complement junior quarterback Manny Wilkins, who has completed 70 percent of his passes for 598 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Senior defensive end Koron Crump already has four sacks, but the Sun Devils looked powerless to stop the run when allowing 279 rushing yards to the Aztecs.
ABOUT TEXAS TECH (1-0): Fifth-year senior quarterback Nic Shimonek shined in his first career start by going 26-of-30 for 386 yards and three touchdowns in the season-opening 56-10 rout of Eastern Washington. Shimonek is attempting to fill the big shoes of Patrick Mahomes II — a first-round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs — and has stellar targets to throw to in senior Cameron Batson (nine catches for 148 yards and a TD versus Arizona State last season) and junior Keke Coutee (5 for 99, two scores in the opener). Junior safety Jah’Shawn Johnson is the defensive leader and has been part of 17 turnovers (five interceptions, six forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries) in his career.
1. Arizona State holds a 2-1 series edge with Texas Tech’s victory (37-23) occurring in the 2013 Holiday Bowl.
2. The Red Raiders have scored 50 or more points in 11 of their last 13 home games.
3. Sun Devils sophomore WR John Humphrey (team-best 123 receiving yards) is expected to miss the game after being injured against San Diego State.
PREDICTION: Texas Tech 56, Arizona State 54