First Look: Arizona State at Washington State
Time: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Martin Stadium
Records: WSU (3-6, 1-5 in Pac-12); Arizona State (6-3, 4-2)
Last week: WSU lost at California, 30-7; Arizona State lost at UCLA, 29-28
Last time: Arizona State defeated WSU, 42-0, in 2010
The line: Arizona State by 13.5
What it means for WSU: In a word, everything. The Cougars are up against their goal of a bowl game. To play in one following the season, they have to win out, starting with the Sun Devils, who only a week ago were ranked nationally. The Cougars have seemingly played better against the better teams, including Stanford and Oregon, but ASU won’t be looking past them, with the Pac-12 South Division title still up for grabs.
What it means for ASU: The Sun Devils could have very easily made this a two-word answer: very little. But after missing two field goals in the last six minutes and dropping a one-point game at UCLA, they find themselves trailing the Bruins in the Pac-12 South race. If UCLA wins out, it goes to the championship game. So ASU has to win each of its last three and hope someone defeats the Bruins. Looking past the Cougars is not an option now.
Key matchup: ASU linebacker Vontaze Burfict vs. Washington State center Matt Goetz.
Burfict is the emotional leader of the Sun Devils defense, and even if he’s not as emotional as he was last year (and not playing as well either), he’s still ASU’s second-leading tackler (with 51) and sack leader (with five). It’s the latter statistic that concerns Goetz and the WSU offensive line. Giving quarterback Marshall Lobbestael time to throw is imperative, as the Sun Devils are the best in the conference in pressuring quarterbacks into poor decisions, as their league-leading 13 interceptions attest.