After a much-needed win for the program and its season, Arizona State (6-3, 4-2 Pac-12) has a road date with a vastly underachieving Washington team (4-5, 3-3) in Seattle to kick off a two-game road trip in the Pacific Northwest.
The Huskies will be without their coach Jimmy Lake after he was suspended one game due to an altercation with a player in last Saturday’s 26-16 loss against Oregon. Tumult has followed the Sun Devils like a shadow this season, but in a nice change, it will be the opposing side line this week will that is trying to steady a rocking boat.
The Sun Devils are coming off a stomach-settling 31-16 win against USC last Saturday after a week of uncertainty and reported strife within the program. Running back Rachaad White had the game of his college career. He rushed for 202 yards, three touchdowns, and broke off multiple runs of 40+ yards.
While White carried the team to a victory, the passing game struggled mightily against a secondary that gave up over 30 points to Arizona. Jayden Daniels looked as far away from the quarterback some had picked as a dark horse Heisman candidate in the preseason. His stat line of 11-20 for 145 yards and two interceptions to no touchdowns does not inspire much confidence as the Sun Devils prepare for the No. 1 passing defense in the Pac-12.
The key to defeating the Huskies are a restock of the ground-and-pound rushing attack that has carried the Sun Devils to their most impressive wins this season. While the Huskies are the No. 1 pass defense and scoring defense in the Pac-12, they rank near the bottom in the conference as a rush defense.
Lake entered the head coaching role in Seattle as a defensive-minded coach, and his team has reflected that identity. The defense is a group of tough, nails-for-breakfast players that make opponents earn their real estate. In many ways, it is old school, which is nice to see in contemporary college football.
Inversely, the offensive game plan is also stuck in the Gerald Ford administration. A below-100th ranked scoring offense has alternated between lethargy and stubbornness this year. Quarterback Dylan Morris has passed for more yards than Daniels, but nobody is mistaking him as the better quarterback.
Jalen McMillan will be a player to watch on the perimeter, as he has caught 31 passes for 414 yards and three scores. The Huskies have the 11th-ranked rushing offense in the conference, and that matchup will get worse for them against an Arizona State defense that is third in the conference as a rush defense.
Last week, the Huskies managed just 166 yards of offense. There isn’t much to indicate that will improve this week. The Sun Devils got torched over six quarters against Utah and Washington State, but tightened up considerably last week at home versus USC. Right now, outside of the running backs, the defensive players are the best Sun Devils on the field.
Seattle is still a tough place to play, and the weather will be unfriendly for Arizona State. Now that those qualifications are out of the way, the Sun Devils are the far superior team that has their head coach still on the sidelines. This should be a quality win for Arizona State.
The game can be seen at 5 p.m. MST on FS1.