No. 13 Arizona State Sun Devils (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12) vs. No. 11 Arizona Wildcats (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12)
Kickoff: 1:30 p.m. MT/3:30 p.m. ET
Television: FOX (Tim Brando, Joel Klatt, Jenny Taft)
Radio: Arizona Sports 98.7 FM/Sirus Channel 85 (Tim Healey, Jeff Van Raaphorst, Doug Franz)
Weather: Forecast calls for a high of 79 degrees and it should be in the high 70's at kickoff with sunny skies.
What to wear: Arizona State has not announced what the Sun Devils will be wearing on Friday. Fans should wear the traditional gold and stay away from the colors red and blue.
Series History: The Wildcats lead the all-time series 47-39-1, however the Sun Devils have won two in a row and three out of the last five meetings. Arizona is 28-19 in games played in Tucson.
Arizona State on offense: The Sun Devil offense did not start the game off well against Washington State. After their first four drives, the Sun Devils had zero points and minus-22 yards of offense. In the second half, they scored on their final four possessions.
It has been that kind of inconsistency that has plagued ASU the past three weeks. The offense that played the first half against Notre Dame and the second half against Washington State can play with any team in the country. However, the offense that played the second half against the Fighting Irish and the first half against the Cougars could barely get out of its own way.
There are a few reasons for the inconsistency. Taylor Kelly was sacked six times against Washington State and was under duress most of the first half. Because of this, the rhythm in the passing game was off and Kelly was forced to rush some throws.
Another issue was the absence of Jaelen Strong, as the wide receiver was recovering from a concussion suffered against Oregon State. Graham confirmed this week that they expect Strong back for the Territorial Cup.
"He makes us a lot better," said Graham about Strong. "Obviously he and D.J. (Foster) are two catalysts in what we do, and it will be great to have him back and it will help us out tremendously."
The Arizona defensive unit is difficult to figure out. The unit ranks ninth in the conference in total defense, but third in scoring and rushing defense. They rank 11th in the Pac-12 in rushing defense, yet held Oregon to just 144 yards on the ground.
The Wildcats are plus-10 in turnover margin on the season, ranking ninth nationally in turnover margin per game. The key player to watch is linebacker Scooby Wright, who leads the nation in tackles for loss, ranks fourth in sacks and sixth in total tackles. Wright isn't physically imposing, but he is one of those players who is always around the football.
ASU Offense vs. Scooby Wright: It is hard to come up with an individual matchup for Scooby Wright, because he does so much. Wright is a great pass rusher (13 sacks) but is also a tackling machine who knows how to find the football. The Sun Devils have to keep two hands on the ball and the offensive line needs to know where Wright is on every play.
Taylor Kelly vs. Arizona Secondary: These two teams are so even on paper, that many people believe that this game will come down to whichever quarterback plays better. The Arizona defense has just 11 interceptions, however redshirt senior Jonathan McKnight has 11 pass break ups. Turnovers become magnified in games like these and Kelly has to be smart with the ball.
ASU on defense: The question remains of who will play quarterback for Arizona on Friday. Anu Solomon left Arizona's last game against Utah and did not return. He has been bothered by a foot injury for the past few weeks and could not continue against Utah.
There is not much difference between Solomon and backup Jesse Scroggins, a USC transfer. Both can extend plays and both are a threat on the ground. Graham said early this week that Solomon has a "mastery" of the Arizona offense as the redshirt freshman is completing 58 percent of his passes with 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
"He's done a tremendous job and is a great operator of the offense," said Graham about Solomon. "He has an ability to extend plays and is very elusive in the pocket and you can tell he has a mastery of what they're trying to do."
"They have a great receiving core and great running backs and he does a great job of dispersing the ball and managing their offense. I think he is as good as any quarterback they have had."
On the ground, Arizona is led by true freshman Nick Wilson. Replacing Ka'Deem Carey, Wilson has 1,085 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns, averaging six yards per carry. Terris Jones-Grigsby is averaing 4.9 yards per carry and has rushed for 554 yards.
"They're a downhill, inside zone-based team, that's what he is; he's a really good inside zone runner," said Graham about Wilson. "Obviously (Arizona running backs coach) Coach MaGee works with their running backs and does a great job, they run the inside zone as good as anybody."
Arizona's wide receiving corps is as deep as any in the Pac-12. The Wildcats are led by sophomores Cayleb Jones and Samajie Grant, who combine for 96 receptions and 1,357 yards and 11 touchdowns. Arizona has seven players who have at lease 20 receptions and four receivers over 300 yards.
The Arizona State secondary has not seen a wide receiving unit this team. The Wildcats can go five receivers deep without much of a drop-off. The nickel and dime packages for ASU are going to be important.
Arizona wide receivers vs. ASU Secondary: Arizona is confident whichever quarterback plays against the Sun Devils. The Sun Devils have to tackle well in open space and limit big plays in the passing game. The Wildcats rank fourth in the conference in both passing and rushing offense, making them one of the more balanced teams in the Pac-12.
Arizona Offensive line vs. ASU Defensive Line: The offensive line was dominated in the first half against Washington State. The ASU offense depends on timing and rhythm, and if the offensive line is allowing penetration, it is hard to accomplish those things.
It will be hard to make a predication on this game until we know the status of Anu Solomon. However, the Wildcats posses more playmakers on offense even with the return of Jaelen Strong.
The two teams are nearly identical on paper. Both teams have been in the redzone 53 times, ASU is the least penalized team the the country and Arizona draws more flags against its opponents than any team in in the Pac-12. ASU averages 37.2 points per game, Arizona averages 36.2.
In the end I think this is the year Rich Rodriguez gets his first victory against ASU. The Wildcats are playing better football right now and the game is in Tucson. It should be a classic that may come down to the final possession.
Final Score: Arizona 38, ASU 34