The game of the week in the Pac-12 this weekend is an inter-division showdown between the no. 18 Arizona State Sun Devils and the Washington State Cougars. The fun gets started at 3:30 EST on Saturday, October 12 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. Fans can watch all of the action on the Pac-12 Network.
Current odds list Arizona State as a 1-point favorite at home with an over/under of 59 points. Click here to check out all of this week’s college football betting odds.
The Sun Devils have played hopscotch with the top-25 over the past few weeks. A road win over Michigan State moved them into the top-25, only to have a home loss to Colorado knock them out. However, Herm Edwards and company responded two weeks ago with a road win against no. 15 Cal to put them back in the good graces of voters. ASU will now look to avoid another letdown and stay in the top-25 when they host Washington State.
In addition to staying in the polls, the Sun Devils are also hoping to make a run in the Pac-12 South. There’s yet to be much separation since the start of conference play, but with one conference loss already on their record, Arizona State can’t afford a second Pac-12 loss. The Sun Devils still have to play the likes of Utah, USC, and Oregon, so a home game against Washington State will feel like a must-win for ASU.
As for the Cougars, they’re eager to put an end to a two-game skid. It all started with that epic collapse against UCLA. But Washington State followed up that performance with a lopsided loss to Utah. They now sit 3-2 overall and 0-2 in Pac-12 play. Wazzou’s chances of challenging for the top spot in the Pac-12 North appear slim, meaning they need to start rattling off some wins.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t get any easier for the Cougars. They will play three of their next four games on the road, including two road contests against ranked teams. If Washington State can’t find a couple of wins during that stretch, even going to a bowl game isn’t guaranteed for a team that began the season with such high expectations.
This will be the first meeting between Arizona State and Washington State since 2016. Mike Leach and the Cougars won that meeting, although the rosters for both teams have completely turned over since that game.
Washington State has been spiraling since that collapse against UCLA and I’m not sure they can get themselves back on track. Quite frankly, I’m not sure how they’re only 1-point underdogs on the road after the way they struggled last week against Utah. All Arizona State has to do to cover is win by two points and I like my chances with the Sun Devils.
To be fair, the Cougars have had an extra week to sort out their problems. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. After the loss to Utah, Leach called his players “fat, dumb, happy, and entitled.” On top of that, the Washington State defensive coordinator resigned, and for good reason with the way the Wazzou defense has played the last two games.
Admittedly, the ASU offense hasn’t been that explosive this season. But they’ve slowly come along during the season behind true freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels. Plus, scoring 24 points against the Cal defense, as the Sun Devils did last week, is no easy feat. The ASU running game has improved with Eno Benjamin the past couple of weeks. Daniels is also a threat with his legs and has been more efficient as a passer in recent weeks. To me, that should translate to a fair amount of success against a struggling Washington State defense.
On the other side of the ball, the Arizona State defense has impressed this season. The Sun Devils had one bad half against Colorado that ended up costing them. But they’ve kept every other team they’ve played under wraps. If ASU can avoid giving up explosive plays in the passing game, they should be in good shape against Washington State.
The Cougars are known for their high-scoring air-raid offense that at times looks impossible to stop. But their loss to Utah in which WSU managed just 13 points and was shut out in the second half proved otherwise. Running back Max Borghi turned out to be the leading receiver in that game, which is usually a bad sign for the Wazzou offense. More concerning is that quarterback Anthony Gordon has thrown four interceptions over his last two games. Even in the UCLA game when he had nine touchdown passes, he threw two picks, which could be an area of concern against the Arizona State defense.
To be honest, Washington State has fallen off such a cliff over the last six quarters that I can’t trust them to get back on track until I see it happen. Against a weaker opponent, I might give them the benefit of the doubt. But Arizona State is capable of kicking a team like the Cougars while they’re down. In a virtual PK, I like my chances with the Sun Devils at home.