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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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WSU underdogs again at Arizona State

TEMPE, Ariz. – The last time Washington State won in Sun Devil Stadium, Jason Gesser had yet to lead the Cougars to a Rose Bowl and Mike Leach was just getting settled in as the head coach at Texas Tech. The Cougars haven’t been victorious in Tempe since 2001 and it’s a trend that is expected to continue today, with oddsmakers favoring the hosts by more than two touchdowns. “They have good players, they have explosive players like they always do and they play together pretty well,” Leach said. To end its Arizona State drought, WSU (3-7, 2-5 Pac-12) have to do a much better job of defending against multitalented quarterback Taylor Kelly, who ran for two touchdowns and threw for another in the first quarter of ASU’s 55-21 win in Pullman last season. The Sun Devils (8-2, 5-2) beat opponents by creating as much stress for opposing teams as possible. Their discipline is their strength and they thrive while creating chaos but are the least-penalized Pac-12 team by a significant margin. Offensively, that stress comes from versatile threats like Kelly, jackknife running back D.J. Foster and physical receiver Jaelen Strong, who coach Todd Graham says is a 50-50 bet to play today. Foster has 872 rushing yards this season and 527 receiving yards. While Strong isn’t a threat to run the ball, the Sun Devils have a variety of ways of getting the ball in the receiver’s hands. “They’ll move him around but some way they’re going to get him the ball,” defensive coordinator Mike Breske said. “They line him up in the backfield, motion him out, try to isolate coverages. He’s very talented.” Defensively, the Sun Devils will probably try to stress redshirt freshman quarterback Luke Falk by blitzing often. However, they Falk’s ability to rush for first downs means the Sun Devils won’t be able to charge into the WSU backfield without any caution like they could against a stationary quarterback. “They’re really aggressive, they attack and if you’re one of those teams that sits back on their heels they’ll take advantage of it,” said offensive line coach Clay McGuire. A hostile crowd and an early start in a different time zone only increase the pressure on the Cougars today. But Falk has shown uncanny poise in his limited action so far and if his cool can extend to the rest of his team like it did in the win over Oregon State, the Cougars may be able to finally beat the heat.
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