ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS (5-2) at WASHINGTON STATE COUGARS (4-4)
Opening Line & Total: Sun Devils -12.5 & 73
Arizona State looks to continue its offensive dominance this season and defeat Washington State, losers of the past two contests, on Thursday night.
The Sun Devils are now 3-1 in conference play due to their tremendous offensive output this year (509.1 total YPG) with their only loss coming on the road against a stout Stanford team, ranked fifth in the nation at that time. The Cougars have done well this year against lesser opponents, but have struggled mightily when facing top offenses. In their last game, Arizona State won its second straight Pac-12 contest at home, beating Washington 53-24 and scored 50+ points for the fourth time this season. Washington State had a very tough matchup in its last game when they traveled to Eugene and were beat up on by Oregon, 62-38, but did cover the enormous 40-point spread. The Sun Devils have won 12 of the 19 games between these two teams since 1992 (10-8 ATS) including a 46-7 blowout in the Valley of the Sun last season. In that game, the Cougars managed only one rushing yard and gave up 561 yards of offense to Arizona State. Although the Sun Devils have done well straight up against Washington State in recent history, they are only 1-5 ATS in their past six games when traveling to the Cougars Stadium.
The Arizona State offense has been clicking on all cylinders this season and is now ranked 14th in the nation in total yards. Leading the team this year is QB Taylor Kelly, who after having a successful first year as a starter in 2012, has continued his success this season. With 2,236 yards passing, 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2013, Kelly has proven that ASU has what it takes to hang with the elite Pac-12 clubs. Kelly has also added 249 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 57 attempts (4.4 YPC). The seven turnovers by Kelly is concerning, and he has thrown multiple interceptions in each loss for the Sun Devils. WR Jaelen Strong has been having one of the best starts in Arizona State history at the position and has also been gaining national attention. Strong has 45 catches this year for 685 yards (15.2 avg.) with four touchdowns. He has been very consistent for the better part of the season, having 100+ yards in five straight games during the middle part of the season. HB Marion Grice has also been an enormous piece of the offense, both in the run game and pass game. Grice has carried the ball 111 times this year for 553 yards (5.0 YPC) and also has 302 receiving yards on 33 catches (9.2 avg.). He has made easy work of getting into the end zone, with 18 total touchdowns (12 rushing) on the year. While the ASU defense has not been great this season, it does boast one of the top defensive tackles in the country in Will Sutton (22 tackles, two sacks), who is moving up draft boards and giving opposing offenses headaches.
The Cougars sling the ball all over the field and have 470 pass attempts to only 145 carries on the season. As a result, QB Connor Halliday is ranked third in the nation in passing yards with 2,798. He has also added 18 touchdowns and an alarmingly high 17 interceptions. In the team’s last game against Oregon, Halliday had a season-high 557 yards passing and 89 attempts, but also threw four interceptions. There are nine different receivers on the team that have 200+ receiving yards and eight different players have caught a touchdown. WR Gabe Marks leads all Cougars receivers with 59 catches for 655 yards and five touchdowns. The HBs on Washington State have contributed only 58.4 yards on the ground per game this season (123rd in nation), but do have eight rushing touchdowns, including six from HB Jeremiah Laufasa. Over the Cougars’ four wins this season, their defense has allowed only 9.8 points per game. Unfortunately, in Washington State’s four losses, they have allowed a whopping 50.0 points per game.