House of Sparky Staff Predictions
Arizona State vs. Washington State
Kerry Crowley: Arizona State 48, Washington State 24
One of the hallmarks of the Todd Graham era for Arizona State has been dominating games the Sun Devils should dominate. Under Graham, the Sun Devils have done an excellent job of blowing out inferior competition and rising to the occasion against bad teams. The Sun Devils don't have any "horrible losses" under Graham even though last year's Oregon State loss and this year's Notre Dame loss still sting. That's why I'm picking the Sun Devils to go up to Pullman and earn their first road victory of the season.
Washington State certainly won't hand this game to the Sun Devils. The Cougars have too much riding on what has become their marquee home game of the season and they want to make an impression on national television. That being said, Graham and his players know they have to continue to build momentum from the Washington win and that the Sun Devils control their own destiny from this point forward. It's a beautiful thought as a player to know that if you win, you've got a spot in the conference championship game. The road won't get any easier after Washington State, but don't expect Arizona State to show up unprepared and unable to deal with the crowd noise, the weather, and any other unpredictable factor that comes with playing away from home.
Bold Prediction: Deantre Lewis rushes for 100 yards, all in the second half.
Ben Haber: Arizona State 52, Washington State 21
Coming into the 2013, I wanted to see ASU improve at three facets: recruiting, stopping the run and playing on the road. Check off recruiting and run stopping. The sole major requirement left on my list is winning beyond the confines of Tempe. Playing at Washington State presents an opportunity to begin to solve the problem. Regardless of the location of the game, the Sun Devils are way more talented than the Cougars.
Washington State isn't nearly as bad as last year. Todd Graham's good friend, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, was impressed by the Cougars' strides from last year to now. Connor Halliday has accumulated a respectable amount of yards, but the turnovers overshadow any positive notions. The Sun Devils are getting their pass rush intact, as Will Sutton and Carl Bradford find their groove. Sutton, Bradford and more are going to force Halliday to be uncomfortable, turning into costly mistakes. The weather may for ASU may be the biggest obstacle, yet low 50's is not too bad. The Sun Devils are going to finally take their show on the show, and by doing so, the BCS rankings will give them some kudos.
Bold prediction: Marion Grice scores touchdowns on the first two Sun Devil drives.
Ryan Bafaloukos: Arizona State 48, Washington State 21
I do not see Arizona State having any issues with either the weather or the Washington State Cougars. I have said it before in these predictions, under Todd Graham the Sun Devils just don't lose games they are supposed to win. The Cougars rank 10th in the conference in turnover margin and Washington State quarterbacks have already thrown 19 interceptions this season.
If the weather turns bad, I believe the Sun Devils are better equipped to handle the conditions. The past two weeks, Arizona State has averaged 295 yards on the ground. Washington State averages just 58.4 rushing yards per game on the ground. Expect ASU to pressure Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday and force at least three turnovers tonight in Pullman.
Bold Prediction: Taylor Kelly throws for more yards than Connor Halliday.
Nick Krueger: Arizona State 48, Washington State 24
I'm just as worried as Todd Graham is about the weather situation in Pullman, which is absolutely not at all. Good football teams win games when they need to no matter what the situation is and that will be the case against Washington State. If not, the Sun Devils will have lost the game, not been beaten by Washington State.
Everyone should be fully prepared for a nail-biter of a first half. The Sun Devils have not had that Pac-12 team they are supposed to beat up on yet. It happened last year at Colorado and it might happen again tomorrow night (who knows what ghosts could be lurking around on Halloween.)
Look for Marion Grice to be in on the action early and often as that cold air will not treat Taylor Kelly's arm well but he should manage just fine regardless. Looking at common opponents, ASU beat USC 62-41 while the Cougars only beat them 10-7, Wazzu also lost to Stanford 55-17 while the Sun Devils only fell by two scores. As long as the defensive backfield can shut down any targets Connor Halliday might have, ASU should cruise home to victory.
Bold prediction: ASU leads by a touchdown or less at halftime.
Cody Ulm: Arizona State 51, Washington State 31
I expect this one to be a relatively close battle with Arizona State doing most its damage in the second and third quarters. The Cougars' offense should be sharper than most expect coming out of their bye week so the first 15 minutes will be about trading blows. But once the Sun Devil defense settles in, they're going to tee off on Connor Halliday.
I'd be more apt to labeling this a trap game if the Devils weren't fresh off a bye as well. As Bafa touched on, Arizona State shouldn't have much trouble nabbing at least three takeaways from Washington State. That said, I see this being a sloppy affair all-around with ASU's offense coughing the ball up once or twice too. The difference-maker will be which team is able to capitalize on those turnovers. And I'm betting the boys in maroon and gold will take full advantage of the premium starting field positions that they will inevitably be handed.
Don't be surprised to see Arizona State go on a 21-0 run midway through this one due to the combination Halliday's carelessness with the ball and Arizona State's opportunistic, fast-strike offense. Hopefully that will afford the Sun Devils enough of a cushion to spend the rest of the second half ironing out the kinks of their red-zone rushing attack.
Bold Prediction: Carl Bradford forces two fumbles