Washington State (3-2) at No. 18 Arizona State (4-1)
12:30 p.m. Saturday, Sun Devil Stadium (Tempe)
TV: Pac-12 Networks
LATEST LINE: Arizona State by 1
WSU key players
QB Anthony Gordon: 167 of 236, 2,146, 22 TDs, 6 INT
RB Max Borghi: 376 yards rushing (7.7 avg. per carry), 4 TD
WR Easop Winston: 28 receptions, 378 yards, 8 TD
LB Jahad Woods: 47 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 forced fumble
Arizona State key players
QB Jayden Daniels, 85 of 140, 1,247 passing yards, 5 TD, 1 INT
RB: Eno Benjamin: 106 rushes, 392 yards, 6 TD
WR Brandon Aiyuk: 24 rec., 455 yards yards., 2 TD
DL Jermayne Lole, 27 tackles, 2.5 TFL
Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys resigned for personal reasons after two straight poor performances by the Cougars in which they gave up 105 points in two losses. The unit has looked disorganized with receivers running free all over the field, and the run defense hasn’t been good either. ASU true freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels is a threat to pass and run, and is similar to Utah’s Tyler Huntley, who carved up the Cougars two weeks ago. If WSU is to turn the season around, it will have to play much better defense.
A Gordon rebound
After four fantastic games, WSU quarterback Anthony Gordon was average at best against a good Utah defense as the Cougars scored just 13 points. The Sun Devils defense might be better than Utah’s, allowing just 14.4 points per game. Gordon needs to make better decisions after forcing the ball into coverage against Utah, and the receivers can help him out by getting more separation from defenders.
Play with toughness, passion
Arizona State is a tough, gritty team. The Cougars, according to coach Mike Leach after the loss to Utah, are soft and not tough. They have had two weeks to change that, and reports from practice have been good. Now they need to show it.
Two very different teams. WSU averages 44.8 points and allows 30.6. ASU averages 22.8 points, but with its defense, that has been enough most weeks. If the Cougars can score at least 30, they have a great chance, but after being wrong on Washington State in its past two games, I need to see it to believe it. Prediction: Arizona State 27, WSU 24.