First Look: WSU at Arizona State
Time: 4 p.m. Saturday, Sun Devils Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
Records: WSU (1-7, 0-7 in Pac-10); Arizona State (3-4, 1-3)
Last week: Washington State lost at Stanford, 38-28; Arizona State lost at Cal, 50-17
Last time: Arizona State defeated WSU, 27-14, in Pullman in 2009
The line: Arizona State by 21
What it means for WSU: Another road trip, another homecoming guest. For the second consecutive week the Cougars will play the role of sacrificial lamb for homecoming activities. But this year, the strategy can backfire. WSU played well enough against Stanford to make the alumni restless and the Cougars could do the same thing in Tempe. This has the feel of a game WSU can compete in and, for the first time in a few weeks, actually has a chance to win. With that in mind, the Cougars need to play well. A poor effort could cost them the momentum they’ve built the past three weeks.
What it means for ASU: After getting blown out at Cal on Saturday, coach Dennis Erickson and his team have come under fire. The Sun Devils have played some excellent games – a near-miss at Wisconsin and a win in Seattle – but have also struggled, losing four of their last five. With two wins over FCS foes, ASU needs seven wins to be bowl-eligible. As it has yet to play some of the Pac-10’s best, that number could be impossible to reach without a win over WSU.
Key matchup: Sun Devis cornerback Omar Bolden vs. Cougars wide receiver Marquess Wilson.
Bolden, a preseason All-Pac-10 selection by one publication, has been ASU’s most productive defensive back, with two interceptions and two pass breakups to go along with 28 tackles. But he was burned so often last week he apologized to ASU fans via his Twitter feed. The junior is fast – a 97-yard kickoff return vs. Wisconsin attests to that – but is also 5-foot-10. He, and opposite corner, 5-11 redshirt freshman Osahon Irabor, will have their hands full with Wilson’s combination of size (6-3) and speed. The freshman receiver has pulled in 41 passes for 796 yards (19.4 yards per catch) in the Cougars’ eight games. His 99.5 receiving yards per game is tops in the Pac-10, seventh in the nation and best among freshmen.