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ASU Football: Washington State Players to Watch

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Cougs are on the prowl

NCAA Football: Northern Colorado at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

After both teams scored a bye in week six, No. 18 Arizona State (4-1) will square off with Washington State (3-2) this Saturday afternoon in Tempe. The Sun Devils entered their bye after outlasting California 24-17 on the road.

The Cougars’ game leading up to their bye didn’t go as smoothly. Wazzu got blown out by Utah 38-13 inside Rice-Eccles Stadium. Washington State looks to snap a two-game skid Saturday afternoon that includes giving up 50 points to UCLA in the second half of their historic 67-63 week four loss to the Bruins. Here are the players to watch come Saturday:

Senior quarterback Anthony Gordon -- Gordon leads the FBS in passing yards this season (2,146 pass yards), and is second in the FBS in passing touchdowns (22), trailing only Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa (23). A Mike Leach offense translates to bombing the ball downfield, and that’s what Gordon does.

The senior is throwing for well over 400 yards per game (429.2 to be exact), and will no doubt continue to heave the ball on Saturday. Gordon commands the Pac-12’s most explosive offense, as the Cougars are currently averaging 44.8 points per game. The defense has been solid so far this year for ASU, but it will be tested against Gordon.

Senior wide receiver Easop Winston Jr. -- If you’re a wide receiver in the Pac-12, your dream coach just might be Leach. Winston Jr. has used Gordon and Leach’s philosophy of throwing the ball constantly to his advantage so far this year. The senior has already matched his season total of eight touchdown catches from last year through the course of five games.

Winston Jr.’s touchdown grabs are second-most in the Pac-12, with only Oregon State’s Isaiah Hodgins pulling in more TD’s (9). He’s also top-10 in the conference in terms of receiving yards. Throw in sophomore Dezmon Patmon and graduate student Brandon Arconado into the receiving mix, and the Sun Devil secondary should have their hands full.

Junior linebacker Jahad Woods -- The most talented player on the defensive side of the ball for Washington State, Woods leads the team in tackles with 47. His 9.4 tackles per game ranks fourth among Pac-12 defenders. Woods has had 10-plus tackles in Wazzu’s first two conference games. With Steven Miller and perhaps even Cade Cote hoping to return as early as Saturday’s game, Woods could have trouble making an impact. Still, don’t count him out.