TONIGHT - Arizona State at Washington State
Posted Oct 29, 2013

Week 10 Fearless Prediction & Preview - Arizona State at Washington State

Arizona State (5-2) at Washington State (4-4) Oct. 31, 10:30, ESPN

Why You Should Give A Hoot: UCLA and USC have made a ton of headlines this season, but Arizona State is the current leader of the Pac-12 South.

It was a wild first half of 2013 for the Sun Devils, which experienced the highs of blowing out USC and Washington, the lows of losing to Stanford and Notre Dame and the flat out unexplainable finish with Wisconsin. Still, ASU is well-positioned for a run at the Pac-12 title game as long as it can navigate the hurdles leading up to the Nov. 23 showdown with the Bruins in Pasadena. Wazzu has essentially played to the level of its competition so far this season, though beating the Trojans and hanging with Auburn were evidence that Mike Leach has made progress in his second on the Palouse. The Cougars must split their final four games to bowl for the first time since 2003.

Why Arizona State Might Win: The Sun Devils have kicked their offense into second gear, a big problem for a Washington State team that allowed an average of 56 points in losses to Stanford, Oregon State and Oregon over the last month. ASU can victimize the Cougars in a multitude of different ways, from the running of Marion Grice and Taylor Kelly to the passing of Kelly to WR Jaelen Strong. The Devils, which rank among the nation's leaders in plays longer than 20 yards, have too much speed, diversity and big-play ability for a fading Wazzu defense.

Why Washington State Might Win: Mike Breske's defense, which started so fast in 2013, will not be the answer against Arizona State. The Cougars must rely on the right arm of Connor Halliday, who's been erratic but has thrown for 2,798 yards and 18 touchdowns. The Sun Devils have disappointed on defense this season, a trend Halliday hopes to further with help from a Gabe Marks-led receiving corps that's produced a dozen players with at least 10 catches.

Who To Watch Out For: The Sun Devil pass rush showed signs of coming to life before the break, generating a whopping 12 tackles for loss and seven sacks. If DT Will Sutton, DE Carl Bradford and the rest of the front seven can build on that effort, ASU will be very tough to beat down the stretch.

- To have a chance on Thursday, the Wazzu defense has got to get back to creating takeaways, a staple in September. CB Damante Hornton and FS Deone Bucannon are the types of ball-hawks who can change the tempo of a game.

What Will Happen: Two teams traveling in very different directions will remain on those disparate paths. While Wazzu is fading under the weight of its modest talent, Arizona State is beginning to hit its preseason potential and expectations. The Sun Devils have too much offensive firepower for a Cougar offense relying too heavily on the inconsistent passing of Halliday.

Prediction: Arizona State 47 … Washington State 26
Line: Arizona State -11.5 o/u: 71
Must See Rating: (5 All Is Lost – 1 Storage Wars) … 2.5
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