Two very pass happy teams meeting in a big Pac-12 game, as Arizona State, hoping to find themselves very soon in the top 25 of the BCS standings, and Washington State, trying hard to position themselves as more than just a team with impressive passing yards.
The Sun Devils (5-2) have won their last two games, with their latest victory, 53-24 over Washington, makes it their second win of the season over a ranked team. They’re sixth in the nation in points per game (45.4), led by Junior quarterback Taylor Kelly, throwing for 2236 yards and 18 touchdowns, but also 7 interceptions.
Unlike their rivals, Arizona State (leading the South division at 3-1), the Sun Devils do have a running game to turn to, averaging 177 yards per game on the ground. Senior Marion Grice is averaging 5 yards per attempt, already scoring 12 touchdowns this season on the ground and adding six through receptions, leading the conference with 18 total touchdowns so far.
The problem for the Sun Devils has been their form away from home, losing their two away games to Notre Dame and #5 Stanford, although they’ve been pretty close in both games. However, against the Cardinal it was more a case of being allowed to get close than anything else.
Washington State already have a win over a 25th ranked team this season (USC), but they’ve lost three of their last four, including by an average of 26 points, facing the two Oregon schools in consecutive weeks. Things are a lot more straightforward with the Cougars, who just keep going to Connor Halliday’s arm, throwing for 2798 yards, resulting in 18 touchdowns but also 17 interceptions, more than any other quarterback in college football.
Arizona State are heading into this game as favorites, although the low temperatures at Pullman might be something of a cause for concern for the Sun Devils. However, they have a pretty impressive record in recent years against both schools from the state of Washington, posting a 15-1 record against them over the last 10 years.
Prediction – Washington State’s style may work against the weaker teams in the Pac-12, but not against a rather solid opposition like Arizona State, who have given ranked teams some tough outings this season, and should be able to handle a pass-happy head coach like Mike Leach on the road.