Forget this Sun Devils vs. Huskies stuff.
Today’s Arizona State-Washington matchup is instead a battle of the Hogs vs. the Dawgs.
The teams meet at 3:30 p.m. at Husky Stadium in the Pacific-10 Conference football opener for Washington, and a game that could go a long way toward determining who represents the conference in the Rose Bowl.
ASU won last year’s game, 45-42, when Robert Nycz kicked a 38-yard field goal with 2 seconds left in the season-opener for both teams, a win that propelled the Devils to the Pac-10 title and an 11-0 regular-season record. UW finished second in the Pac-10 at 7-1.
ASU piled up those points behind an offensive line that calls itself “the Hogs,” a nickname dreamed up by offensive line coach Dan Cozzetto, who is a Gonzaga Prep and University of Idaho alum.
But ASU’s offensive line hasn’t been kicking much behind this year as the Devils have struggled on offense, putting up only 23 points the past two weeks.
ASU, however, is 3-1 overall and ranked No. 25 in the country, and 1-0 in the Pac-10, thanks to a stout defense that has allowed only two touchdowns by opposing offenses and only 32 points overall (excluding opponents’ returns for TDs).
The Hogs promise to do better in a game the Sun Devils know they have to win to have any chance at repeating as Pac-10 champs.
UW’s offensive linemen are likewise promising to play more like Dawgs than the meeker unit that suited up for a 27-14 loss to Nebraska two weeks ago.
Good line play could help Washington run well against the ASU defense, one of the best in the nation against the run. The Sun Devils use a nine-man front that has allowed opponents only 73.5 rushing yards a game.
If UW can establish the run at all, it would figure to open up opportunities for quarterback Brock Huard and wide receiver Jerome Pathon, who could be left in manto-man coverage if ASU sticks to its normal defense. Pathon is averaging an NCAA-best 180 receiving yards.
Huskies coach Jim Lambright said this week that walk-on freshman Nick Lentz will handle all place-kicking duties in the Huskies’ Pac-10 opener, replacing sophomore Randy Jones, who made 2 of 6 field goals in the first three games. Jones is a Ferris High School grad.