DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 9th, 7:00 p.m.
FACTS & STATS: Site: Husky Stadium (72,500) -- Seattle, Washington. Television: FSN-NW. Home Record: ASU 2-1, Washington 1-1. Away Record: ASU 0-2, Washington 1-1. Neutral Record: ASU 0-0, Washington 0-0. Conference Record: ASU 0-2, Washington 1-0. Series Record: Washington leads, 15-14.
GAME NOTES: The Arizona State Sun Devils will look to even up the all-time series against Washington this weekend when they head to Husky Stadium for a Pac-10 Conference clash.
Washington holds a slim 15-14 edge in the head-to-head series, although ASU notched a 24-17 victory on a touchdown pass in the final seconds when these teams met last year. The Sun Devils are seeking a seventh straight victory against Washington.
The Sun Devils are coming off their third straight loss last weekend, a 31-28 setback at Oregon State. They are in the midst of a three-game road trip that won't see them play another home game until October 30th, a span of 34 games. Next up following this tilt, ASU will have an off week and then hit the road again to face California on October 23rd.
Washington is coming off a dramatic 32-31 win over 18th-ranked USC thanks to Erik Folk's 32-yard field goal on the final play. In fact, it was the second straight year that Folk beat USC on a last-second field goal. The Huskies are looking to string together back-to-back victories for the first time this season.
Despite their win-loss record, the Sun Devils remain capable of picking up huge chunks of yardage on offense. Currently, they are posting 34.6 ppg and rank 9th nationally in passing offense (301.2 ypg) and 17th in total offense (468.8 ypg). Stephen Threet remains the top passer in the Pac-10 despite being bottled up by Oregon State last week, as he was held to 14-of-29 passing for 203 yards and a touchdown. He also threw three interceptions and was sacked six times. Freshman running back Deantre Lewis went for 104 yards on the ground, marking his third straight game over the century mark. The last time an ASU running back went over 100 yards in three straight games was back in 2003. Look for the Sun Devils to continue mixing in Lewis to the game plan in order to keep the Huskies from pinning their ears back at Threet.
Defensively, ASU ranks in the middle of the Pac-10 in total defense (fifth) and scoring defense (seventh). Oregon and Oregon State have posted a combined 73 points on the Sun Devils over the last two weeks. Last week, they surrendered 416 yards against OSU, including 154 on the ground and two touchdowns by Beavers' running back Jacquizz Rodgers. Quarterback Ryan Katz notched 260 yards passing and two TDs against the ASU secondary. The Sun Devils have not generated many turnovers thus far, as they currently rank 117th in the nation in turnover margin (minus-1.4). Opposing quarterbacks have often had ample time to operate in the pocket, with ASU ranking 107th in the nation in sacks (1.00). Defensive coordinator Craig Bray must be cautious about when to dial up blitzes, as Huskies' quarterback Jake Locker is one of the more sound decision-makers in the nation.
Locker threw for 310 yards and also ran for 110 last week at USC. It was the breakout game of the year so far for Locker, who is completing only 53.8 percent of his passes while averaging 234 passing yards per contest. He has thrown seven touchdowns and only two interceptions. Locker has developed nice chemistry with Jermaine Kearse, who is tallying 107.5 receiving yards per game, tops among Pac-10 wideouts. In the backfield, Chris Polk has amassed 356 rushing yards and three scores on 66 carries (5.4 ypc). Once the Huskies get into the red zone, they have been ultra-efficient. In fact, they are one of only five FBS teams that has converted every red-zone opportunity on the season (13-for-13; eight TDs, five FGs).
The Washington defense has been a leaky unit, to say the least. Entering this bout, the Huskies are giving up 32.5 points per game and rank 107th in the nation in total defense (440.25 ypg). They've been particularly generous against the run, having allowed 234.75 yards per game to opposing ground games. Last week's effort against USC was not a dominant one by any means, though it was a marked improvement from the previous week in which the Huskies gave up 56 points against Nebraska. They held the Trojans to 186 passing yards, however the USC rushing attack racked up 298 yards (7.6 ypc) and four touchdowns as a team. The lone bright spot on that side of the ball has been senior linebacker Mason Foster, who leads the Pac-10 with 12 tackles per game on the season.
Barring a vast improvement in a one-week timeframe, it's tough to imagine the Huskies keeping ASU's potent offense in check. But if the game remains close, keep an eye on special teams, as ASU ranks 10th in the nation in net punting and second in kickoff return average.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arizona State 44, Washington 31