ASU vs. Notre Dame: Explosive Players to Watch for in Prime Time Matchup

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IOctober 5, 2013

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 28:  Quarterback Taylor Kelly #10 of the Arizona State Sun Devils rushes the football on a 40 yard gain against the USC Trojans during the second quarter of the college football game at Sun Devil Stadium on September 28, 2013 in Tempe, Arizona. The Sun Devils defeated the Trojans 62-41. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The No. 22 Arizona State Sun Devils will face off against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in Arlington, Texas on Saturday night in one of Week 6's most underrated prime time matchups. 

The Sun Devils are coming off a win over USC that saw them put 60-plus points on the board while the Fighting Irish are aiming to bounce back following their first home loss in nearly two years. The Vegas oddsmakers think Arizona State and its top-10 aerial attack will prevail, but Notre Dame has some weapons of its own that are worth watching.

With kickoff not far away, let's take a closer look at the most explosive players set to take the field on Saturday night.  


Taylor Kelly, Arizona State, QB

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 14:  Quarterback Taylor Kelly #10 of the Arizona State Sun Devils throws a pass during the college football game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Sun Devil Stadium on September 14, 2013 in Tempe, Arizona.  The Sun Devils defeated the
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Arizona State gunslinger Taylor Kelly is one of only three FBS quarterbacks to have thrown for more than 300 yards in each of his appearances this season. 

The Sun Devils junior quarterback has racked up more than 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns through the air coming into Saturday's showdown with Notre Dame. But the 6'2", 203-pound Idaho native can also deliver on the ground when he needs to.

Kelly has 124 rushing yards on 27 attempts in 2013 and picked up over 500 yards on the ground as a sophomore in 2012.

But watch for Kelly to torch the Irish's 65th-ranked pass defense with his arm on Saturday. Notre Dame gave up 7.7 yards per pass attempt in last week's loss to Oklahoma and has surrendered 10 passing touchdowns through five games.


George Atkinson III, Notre Dame, RB

SOUTH BEND, IN - AUGUST 31: George Atkinson III #4 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish breaks away from Blaze Caponegro #6 of the Temple Owls at Notre Dame Stadium on August 31, 2013 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Temple 28-6. (Photo by Jonathan
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

After flying under the radar for four straight weeks to begin the year, Notre Dame running back George Atkinson III was unstoppable in Week 5's loss to Oklahoma, rushing for a career-best 148 yards on just 14 carries. 

The 220-pound junior showcased his athleticism and explosion with an 80-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, per ESPN Stats & Info:

That home run play has to have the Arizona State coaching staff worried. Especially considering the Sun Devils rank 94th in the country against the run in 2013, giving up more than 192 yards per game on the ground. If Atkinson can earn a dozen or so carries again this weekend, he should easily surpass 100 yards for the second straight game.


Will Sutton, Arizona State, DT

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 14:  Defensive tackle Will Sutton #90 of the Arizona State Sun Devils reacts after a tackle against the Wisconsin Badgers during the college football game at Sun Devil Stadium on September 14, 2013 in Tempe, Arizona.  The Sun Devils
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Not too many college football fans outside of Tempe are familiar with Sun Devils' defensive force Will Sutton. The senior from Corona, Calif. burst onto the scene in 2012, recording 12 sacks and 23.5 tackles for a loss. 

His numbers aren't nearly as impressive through the first four games of 2013, but the senior is still considered to be one of the top-five defensive tackles headed for the 2014 NFL draft next spring.

At 6'1", 290 pounds, Sutton is both a powerful and athletic rusher who has had a surprising amount of success getting to the quarterback, racking up defensive end-like sack numbers a season ago.

The Fighting Irish have only allowed four sacks through five games this year, but that number should rise on Saturday in Arlington, as Sutton looks to leave his mark in front of a national audience in prime time.


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