Arizona State will host the Washington State Cougars on Saturday in a game the Sun Devils need to win. The Cougars have struggled in this matchup in recent seasons but were part of a late-season losing streak that hit Arizona State last season.
After a 5-1 start in 2012 the Sun Devils hit the hard part of their schedule. Their last four games were against teams ranked in the Top 25, and their record has evened out at 5-5.
Mike Leach was expected to bring his "Air Raid" offense to the Palouse, but the Cougars' offense hasn't been producing as expected. They've struggled through injuries at quarterback and issues with their star receiver.
When: Saturday, Nov. 17 at 3 p.m. ET
Where: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ
Watch: Pac-12 Network
Live Stream: Pac-12.com
Radio: Free Football Radio
Betting Line (via OddsShark)
Over/Under: OFF, Spread: Arizona State -21
The Sun Devils should certainly be favored in this game, but a three-touchdown edge seems excessive.
The Cougars were 16.5-point underdogs last week against UCLA. They covered the spread in a 44-36 loss. WSU also dropped seven-point games to Stanford and Oregon State in their seven-game Pac-12 losing streak.
Arizona State will get a rebound win but the 21 points are too tempting.
Injury Report (via USA Today)
Gunnar Eklund, OL, Questionable
Theron West, RB, Questionable
Leon Brooks, RB, Questionable
Isiah Myers, WR, Questionable
Feddie Davey, S, Out
Marquess Wilson, WR, Suspended
Villiami Moeakiola, S, Out
BCS/Top 25 Implications
Arizona State has two games left to become bowl eligible. They finish against a tough Arizona team, so they need to break their losing streak against Washington State.
The Cougars have nothing left to play for except pride. Their team had a complete meltdown two weeks ago against Utah, calling the pride factor into question.
They rebounded against UCLA, though, showing a desire to finish as strong as possible.
Washington State Player to Watch: Jeff Tuel and Connor Halliday, QB
After falling behind by 30 points last week, Halliday came in for an injured Tuel and helped lead a massive comeback effort. He threw five touchdown passes on 26-of-43 passing for 330 yards.
Tuel is still listed as the starting quarterback.
He is in the process of applying for a medical redshirt, which would give him another season with the Cougars. It has been approved by the Pac-12, but the NCAA has not made a decision. If approved he still hasn't decided if he'll return.
With Washington State building for next season, it will be interesting to see what Leach does with the position.
Arizona State Player to Watch: Taylor Kelly, QB
Three running backs in Tempe have shared carries this season. There is a variance of under 100 yards between them.
The heart of the offense is the sophomore quarterback from Eagle, Idaho. He's had some very good games and some rather rough outings. He's completed 65 percent of his passes and has 21 touchdowns with nine interceptions on the season.
The Sun Devils need Kelly to step up and lead the offense. Arizona State is 5-1 in games when he's thrown more touchdowns than interceptions and 0-3 when his turnovers outnumber his touchdowns.
Prediction: Arizona State 45, Washington State 31
The Cougars have the 105th-ranked offense in college football but they have shown flashes of the unit coming together. They've been very good passing on the road, but the Sun Devils' home pass defense is one of the best units in the country.
Arizona State should be able to score early and often. The team has the 33rd-ranked offense while the Cougars have struggled defensively.
Washington State regrouped last week. I expect they'll take some of that offensive continuity to Tempe to keep this game from turning ugly.
Darin Pike is a writer for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team and a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and the Seattle Seahawks.