Washington State Cougars (3-7, 2-5 Pac-12) vs. No. 13 Arizona State Sun Devils (8-2, 5-2 Pac-12)
Kickoff: 11 a.m. MT/1 p.m. ET
Television: Pac-12 Networks (Kevin Calabro Yogi Roth, Lewis Johnson)
Radio: Arizona Sports 98.7 FM (Tim Healey, Jeff Van Raaphorst, Doug Franz)
Weather: Saturday's forecast in Tempe calls for a high of 72 degrees and sunny skies. The temperature should be in the low 60's around kickoff and will climb into the low 70's as the game goes on.
What to wear: The Sun Devils will be wearing white helmets with the small pitchfork, maroon jerseys and maroon pants, but fans should wear gold on Saturday.
Washington State's season to date: After reaching a bowl game in 2013 in Mike Leach's second season, the Cougars have fallen back to the bottom of the Pac-12 in 2014. Washington State started its season with a three-point loss to Rutgers in Seattle and they followed that up with a loss on the road to Nevada.
Washington State's most successful stretch of the season came in their next three games. The Cougars picked up a victory over Portland State, then hung with Oregon at home, losing by just seven points in Pullman. The next week, Washington State picked up their most noticeable victory of the year, a come-from-behind victory against Utah in Salt Lake City.
However, the wheels came off the wagon for the Cougars following their victory over the Utes. Washington State lost its next four games and fell to 2-7. The Cougars picked up their third victory of the season two weeks ago when they beat Oregon State 39-32 in Corvallis.
Arizona State on offense: The Sun Devils turned the ball over twice, collected five penalties and mustered just 103 rushing yards in a loss to Oregon State last week. The Sun Devils have fallen to sixth in the conference in total offense and seventh in passing offense. Taylor Kelly went 22/44 for 264 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. It was Kelly's first two-interception game since the last time the Sun Devils played Oregon State in 2013.
Kelly now has five interceptions in four games since returning from a broken foot. Head coach Todd Graham opened up the media in his press conference on Monday and gave a potential reason why Kelly has increased his turnovers.
"I think the opponents had something to do with that. He had a substantial injury, I mean he had surgery and a pin put in his foot," said Graham. "He has gotten better, but I still don't think he is running at the level that he was before.
"I think a lot of that has to do with the injury and where he is at. Before the injury, I think he was moving a lot better and was able to execute the zone read stuff. I'm not sure he is 100% back yet."
D.J. Foster carried the ball 14 times against Oregon State for just 51 yards. Freshman Demario Richard totaled just 37 yards on seven carries. Against the high-powered offense of Washington State, Graham feels the running game will be a key.
"We obviously have to score points whenever we have the opportunity," said Graham. "We need to limit how many snaps we play on defense, and we need to be able to run the football and be able to control it. They are very explosive offensively and extremely capable of big plays and scoring points."
WR Jaelen Strong/Cameron Smith vs. CB Pat Porter: The Courgars will be without their top cornerback, Daquawn Brown, for the first half of the game because of an suspension stemming from a targeting call two weeks ago.
Porter is a true freshman who has seen the field plenty this year, but he is a true freshman. Washington State gives up over 300 yards through the air so expect Arizona State to challenge the Cougar secondary.
ASU Offensive Line vs. DL Xavier Cooper/LB Jeremiah Allison: Cooper and Allison are the best players on an underachieving Cougar defense. The Cougars rank 11th in the conference in passing defense and 10th in scoring defense.
Cooper and Allison combine for 15.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks for Washington State. They are the players who the Sun Devils need to key on the most among the Cougar front-seven.
Arizona State on defense: The Arizona State defense surrendered 498 yards and three touchdowns of over 65 yards to an Oregon State offense that ranked 11th in scoring offense coming into last week. Liau Moeakiola and Jordan Simone left the Oregon State game in the second half with injury, however are expected back for the this week's contest against the Cougars.
Washington State presents a challenge that the Sun Devil defense has not seen this season. The Cougars lead the nation in passing offense, averaging 477.6 yards through the air per game. Washington State throws the ball on over 75 percent of their offensive snaps.
"Their quarterback just got hurt, they are just through beating Oregon State at Oregon State with the quarterback that just came in, their receivers have big play capability," said Graham. "This offense is very different from anything that we have seen so far, and that makes it a very different kind of week for us because they are not something that we are used to."
Quarterback Connor Halliday suffered a season-ending leg injury against USC and freshman Luke Falk has replaced the senior. Falk is completing 70 percent of his passes and thrown eight touchdowns to just one interception. Falk is more mobile than Halliday and the Washington State offense has not missed a beat with the freshman playing.
The Cougars will go with a lot of four and five receiver sets so Arizona State will counter that by spending a lot of time in its nickel package, with freshman Armand Perry serving as the nickel cornerback. Graham mentioned D.J. Calhoun could see more time in a pass rushing role and freshman Chad Adams may see more time as well.
"You can't give up seams and climbs and you have to be sound in space tackling," Graham told reporters after practice Thursday. "They do such a great job with the screen game. Obviously we have to tackle well in space and make sure we don't give up any vertical lines so it becomes critical."
WR Vince Mayle and Isiah Myers vs. ASU Secondary: Mayle is averaging over 115 yards receiving per game. He has nine receiving touchdowns and 86 catches. Myers leads Washington State with 11 touchdown receptions and is second on the team with 795 receiving yards. What is going to be important, is limiting yards after catch.
As Graham said above, the Cougars like to use screens to get their athletes in space. The Sun Devils have had issues stopping the big play this season and tacking in space is going to be important. Washington State is going to pass for a lot of yards on Saturday, Arizona State has limit big plays and yards after catch.
It is going to be interesting to see how this team responds after such a crushing defeat. Arizona State was just starting to receive major national attention and rose to No. 6 in the polls. However, the Sun Devils still have a lot to play for and it is senior day on Saturday.
There is a chance Jaelen Strong does not play on Saturday, as he continues to recover from a concussion. Without Strong, expect the Sun Devils to establish the run early. Graham discussed how Arizona State will look to control the clock with a persistent running game.
Don't be surprised if this game is close in the second half, Washington State averages 34 points per game and their offense keeps them in games. Expect a high-scoring game with Arizona State pulling away in the second half.
Final Score: Arizona State 45, Washington State 31