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Arizona State Football: Looking Ahead at Sun Devils' Second Half of the Season

David A. BowersCorrespondent IIOctober 24, 2013

Arizona State Football: Looking Ahead at Sun Devils' Second Half of the Season

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The Arizona State football team displayed one of the best performances of the year and it was against a Top 20 team in the Washington Huskies.

    The Sun Devils (5-2, 3-1) have flirted with the Top 25 rankings twice this year, only to be ceremoniously dropped the next week following losses on the road to Stanford and Notre Dame.

    They are, however, dominant at home. The Devils are a perfect 5-0 this season and an awe-inspiring 9-2 under Todd Graham; losing a nail-biter last season to UCLA and a blowout loss to Oregon.

    With five games remaining in the season, three of the games are away from Sun Devil Stadium and the home games are no picnic either—hosting No. 25 Oregon State and rival Arizona. Although the Wildcats (4-2, 1-2) are struggling this season, they have won three of the last five meetings in Tempe including the past two.

    What lies ahead for the Sun Devils after the bye week? Let's delve inside and take a look. 

Washington State Cougars

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    Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

    The last time these teams met, it was a blowout. The Sun Devils ran up 46 straight points against the Cougars before Connor Halliday threw a 54-yard touchdown in the final minute avoiding the shutout.

    The victory gave the Sun Devils a 24-13-2 lead in the series, but they are only 9-8 on the Palouse. The last time Arizona State played in Pullman, they were greeted with blizzard conditions and lost 37-27 due to a scoreless fourth quarter and an abysmal kicking performance.

    Halliday is having a banner season placing second in the FBS with 2,798 yards and is tied with Arizona State's Taylor Kelly for sixth in the nation with 18 touchdowns. Halliday also leads all quarterbacks in another category—interceptions (17). He has not had a pick-free game all season and threw four last week against Oregon and three in the season opener against Auburn. 

    Washington State has long been the whipping post of the Pac-12 and their 10-7 defeat of No. 25 USC in the Coliseum will long be remembered in Cougar lore. However, that will be the highlight of their season as they go on to lose on Halloween.

    Game Details

    • Date: Oct. 31, 2013
    • Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
    • Location: Martin Stadium, Pullman, Wash.
    • TV: ESPN
    • Radio: 92.3 KTAR FM (Phoenix metro area)
    • Current Opponent Record: (4-4, 2-3)
    • Current Ranking: N/A




Utah Utes

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    Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

    The former WAC foe has played 24 times in the series with Arizona State holding a convincing 18-6 lead. The Sun Devils have won nine straight over the Utes and are 5-3 at Rice-Eccles Stadium. 

    The Utes shocked the nation two weeks ago by defeating No. 5 Stanford at home but limped out of Arizona Stadium last weekend after losing 35-24 to a subpar Wildcat team.

    Which team will show up against Arizona State on Nov. 9? It's anybody guess as they are 1-2 at home against conference foes.

    Quarterback Travis Wilson ranks eighth in the conference in passing yards (1,655) and completion percentage (60.4), while placing fifth in yards per attempt (8.2) and touchdowns (14). He has thrown 12 interceptions, while being sacked nine times. To his credit, his five rushing touchdowns are third-most in the conference among quarterbacks.

    Leading running back Bubba Poole and receiver Dres Anderson are integral parts of the Utes' No. 37-ranked scoring offense averaging 35.1 points per game.  

    Their defense is quite porous, though, allowing 26.7 points per game and facing Arizona State's sixth-ranked offense, I see this getting out of hand quickly for the Utes.


    Game Details

    • Date: Nov. 9, 2013
    • Time: TBA
    • Location: Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah
    • TV: TBA
    • Radio: 92.3 KTAR FM (Phoenix metro area)
    • Current Opponent Record: (4-3, 1-3)
    • Current Ranking: N/A




Oregon State Beavers

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    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    Oregon State had an embarrassing opening weekend, losing to FCS Eastern Washington—at home. They have gone on to win six straight, but don't let the numbers fool you. They have played the four worst teams in the Pac-12 with a combined 3-13 conference record. Hawaii and San Diego State, their other two victories, are a combined 3-9 overall. 

    Beavers quarterback Sean Mannion has monster numbers leading the nation with 2,992 yards and 29 touchdowns. Once again, we need to put these numbers in perspective when looking at the teams they have played with five of the six teams ranked 100th or worse in team defense. 

    Utah's 62nd ranked defense is the toughest team they have played—and they needed overtime to secure the victory.

    Oregon State hosts No. 6 Stanford this weekend and USC on a Friday night matchup the following week. They then get a nice 15-day break before traveling to Tempe. Starting this weekend, the Beavers will be brought back down to earth and will struggle to win a game from here on out.

    Game Details

    • Date: Nov. 16, 2013
    • Time: TBA
    • Location: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
    • TV: TBA
    • Radio: 92.3 KTAR FM (Phoenix metro area)
    • Current Opponent Record: (6-1, 4-0)
    • Current Ranking: No. 25 BCS





UCLA Bruins

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    Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

    The Bruins started the season like a team on fire. After falling behind 18 points to No. 23 Nebraska in Week 2, they scored 31 unanswered points to beat the Huskers, 41-21. Much like the Beavers, the Bruins have enjoyed an easy schedule to start the year by defeating Nevada, New Mexico State and Pac-12 cellar dwellers, Utah and Cal.

    They traveled to Stanford and looked horrible, being shutout in the first half and only managing 10 points and 266 total yards. It doesn't get any easier for the Bruins as they travel to Autzen Stadium this weekend to take on the No. 3 Oregon Ducks.

    Last year's meeting between the Devils and Bruins in Tempe was a shootout with UCLA handing Arizona State its second loss in as many weeks. The Sun Devils jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, but the Bruins tied it up before the first quarter ended. The Bruins led by 11 points in the third quarter and nine in the fourth until the Sun Devils finally took back the lead with just over a minute remaining in the game. The Bruins kicked a field goal as time expired knocking the wind out of the Sun Devil faithful.

    UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley hasn't tripped the light fantastic like Mannion, although he has faced a relatively easy schedule. He comes in ranked No. 32 in the nation in passing with 1,661 yards and his 13 touchdowns rank seventh in the conference. His completion percentage (66.8), however, is second best in the conference and ranks 21st in the country.

    There are no big name threats on the offense with Jordon James in the backfield and Shaquelle Evans at receiver, both finding the end zone five times apiece.

    After Oregon this weekend, the Bruins should improve their record by defeating Colorado, Arizona and Washington. The Sun Devils will be the only obstacle standing in the way of claiming their third consecutive Pac-12 South crown.

    At this point, it is impossible to say which team will emerge the victor given the schedule over the next month, but it will most likely resemble last year's matchup with the Sun Devils squeaking out the victory this year. 

    Game Details

    • Date: Nov. 23, 2013
    • Time: TBA
    • Location: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
    • TV: TBA
    • Radio: 92.3 KTAR FM (Phoenix metro area)
    • Current Opponent Record: (6-1, 4-0)
    • Current Ranking: No. 12 BCS, No. 12 AP, No. 11 USA Today





Arizona Wildcats

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Breaking from tradition, once again, the Territorial Cup between Arizona and Arizona State will not be played the Friday after Thanksgiving, but on Saturday. 

    The Wildcats lead the series 47-38-1, but the oldest rivalry trophy dating back to 1899 currently resides in Tempe at Arizona State. Since 2000, the Sun Devils lead the series 8-5, but the most telling statistic is that the visiting team has won eight of the last 13. 

    This game defies any and all traditional statistical analyzing or breaking down players' strengths and weaknesses. It has been and will be won by the team that is able to make adjustments on-the-fly after seeing what the other team has to offer. 

    The game is rarely a blowout with nine games in the past 13 being decided by a touchdown or less. The 2003 game in Tempe and 2008 in Tucson are the exceptions, where the home team not only won but literally dismantled the other by 21 points.

    The last time the Sun Devils beat Arizona at home was in 2007 when they were ranked No. 13 in the country. If they can win out coming into this crucial matchup, they will be ranked near there and will pull out the victory.

    Game Details

    • Date: Nov. 30, 2013
    • Time: TBA
    • Location: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
    • TV: TBA
    • Radio: 92.3 KTAR FM (Phoenix metro area)
    • Current Opponent Record: (4-2, 1-2)
    • Current Ranking: N/A




    David is the Featured Columnist of Arizona State Athletics for B/R. Follow him on Twitter at @asudave.

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