HYUNDAI SUN BOWL STORYLINES
1. Arizona State aims for back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time in more than 40 years when it faces Duke at the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso. The No. 16 Sun Devils, who last posted consecutive double-digit victory campaigns from 1970-73, are in a bowl game for the fourth season in a row and make their fifth Sun Bowl appearance. The Blue Devils are in their third consecutive bowl game after not participating in a bowl from 1984-2012, and will make their first appearance in the Sun Bowl and 11th bowl game in school history.
2. Duke’s strong defense will be challenged by Arizona State’s high-powered offense. The Blue Devils rank in the top 20 nationally in third-down defense (18th), scoring defense (20th) and pass efficiency defense (20th), featuring the ACC’s leading tackler in linebacker David Helton and two-time all-conference safety Jeremy Cash. The Sun Devils average 446.5 yards per game on offense, ranking 18th nationally in scoring thanks to 1,000-yard rusher D.J. Foster and 1,000-yard receiver Jaelen Strong.
3. The two schools are a combined 18-6 this season but look to bolster less-than-stellar bowl histories. The Blue Devils, who have reached a third consecutive bowl for the first time in school history, are 3-7 all-time in bowl games and have not won a bowl game since beating Arkansas 7-6 in the 1961 Cotton Bowl. Arizona State, which has lost four of its past five bowl appearances, defeated Purdue 27-23 in its last trip to the Sun Bowl in 2004 and is 2-1-1 overall in its previous Sun Bowl appearances.
TV: 2 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Arizona State -7.5
ABOUT ARIZONA STATE (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12): The Sun Devils average 37 points per game, sparked by Foster’s 1,002 rushing yards and nine touchdowns, and Strong – who ranks 12th nationally with 10 receiving touchdowns and 17th with 1,062 receiving yards. Quarterback Taylor Kelly passed for 1,874 yards and 20 scores. The Sun Devils feature an opportunistic defense that is sixth in the country in tackles for loss and defensive touchdowns, highlighted by defensive back Damarious Randall (third in the Pac-12 in interceptions and fifth in tackles).
ABOUT DUKE (9-3, 5-3 ACC): The Blue Devils have allowed 21 points or less nine times in 12 games, surrendering an average of 20.6 points per contest, and Cash is the lone defensive back in the nation with more than 100 tackles, 10-plus tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. Quarterback Anthony Boone passed for 2,507 yards and 17 touchdowns, and added five rushing scores. Receiver Jamison Crowder is a dangerous playmaker who earned all-ACC honors as a wide receiver and return specialist, catching 78 passes for 952 yards and is six receptions shy of the ACC all-time record of 283.
PREDICTION: Arizona State 31, Duke 27