Washington State vs. Arizona State prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins Saturday night’s matchup between the Cougars and Sun Devils.
When: Saturday, Oct. 22 – 10:00 p.m. ET
Where: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona
TV Broadcast: Pac-12 Network
Someone get Mike Leach the butter because Washington State’s on a roll (awkwardly looks around the room for laughs). Okay, that was lame, but Washington State really has been on fire. Since losing their first two games of the season, the Cougars have won four games in a row over Idaho, Oregon, Stanford and UCLA. The most recent win over the Bruins, 27-21, had Wazzu in the lead from start to finish.
Meanwhile, Arizona State has had reverse fortune as of late. Since winning their first four games of the season, the Sun Devils have lost two of their last three games — both of which were on the road. In Week 5, they fell to USC before bouncing back with a win over UCLA. Last weekend, Todd Graham’s team fell to Colorado, 40-16. The Sun Devils never led in the game.
Last year’s matchup in Pullman went to the Cougars, 38-24, but the all-time series is still controlled by Arizona State, 27-14-2.
What To Know About Washington State
Luke Falk wasn’t great against the Bruins. He connected on 28-of-48 passes for 261 yards and an interception, but he’s been killing it this season. Falk has completed 71.5 percent of his passes for 2,113 yards and 16 touchdowns. And, as expected, his go-to target has been Gabe Marks, who’s reeled in 40 catches for 337 yards and six touchdowns. Tavares Martin Jr. is second on the team with three receiving touchdowns.
But the ground game has been working for the Cougars, too. Jamal Morrow is averaging 6.2 yards per carry and has amassed 316 yards and four touchdowns on 51 carries. Gerard Wicks has added 221 yards and seven rushing touchdowns, and James Williams has also rushed for four scores.
What to Know About Arizona State
The good news is Manny Wilkins is healthy, but the bad news is he was awful against Colorado. Wilkins completed 13-of-35 passes for 149 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The lone touchdown pass was a five-yard strike at the end of the first quarter to Kody Kohl, who finished the game with the one catch. Tim White led the team with five catches for 97 yards.
The Buffaloes also bottled up the Sun Devils’ running game. Demario Richard managed 59 rushing yards, and Kalen Ballage added only 14 rushing yards. On the season, the two halfbacks have combined for 819 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns — nine of them being from Ballage. Wilkins has shown he can run the ball, too. He’s run for 223 yards and four touchdowns, but, against Colorado, he was brought down for -31 yards.
Offense: Washington State – Wazzu can put up points in the air and on the ground. Falk is the real deal.
Defense: Washington State – The Cougars are No. 54 in total defense (382.7 yards/game) to Arizona State’s No. 123 ranking (506 yards/game).
Special Teams: Arizona State – Zane Gonzalez is practically automatic kicking the ball. He’s hit 19-of-20 field goals, has totaled 82 points this season, and he’s the NCAA career leader in field goals made.
Coaching: Washington State – Mike Leach knows offense, and the Cougars can score in a hurry.
Matchup To Watch
Luke Falk vs. Manny Wilkins
The Sun Devils won’t have any shot at winning this game if Wilkins doesn’t perform better. He has to deliver the ball with precision and force the Cougars to respect his arm before he can look to make plays with his legs. At the same time, Falk needs to take his game to the next level at some point, and it might as well be against Arizona State. If Falk can cap off a couple of scoring drives in the first half, Wazzu will be fine.
Spread: Washington State -7
Washington State vs. Arizona State Prediction
Morrow will get the Cougars off on the right foot by punching the rock into the end zone in the first quarter. He and Wicks will combine for at least 100 rushing yards and a couple of touchdowns. Falk will be much better this week with 200-plus yards and a pair of touchdowns. He’ll be on the same page with Marks, who will catch one of those scoring strikes. Wilkins will do all he can on the ground, but Washington State will limit the damage through the air, and both Richard and Ballage will be bottled up again. Wazzu wins on the road.
Washington State vs. Arizona State Score Prediction: Washington State 42, Arizona State 33