Arizona State 101: Fork in the road

HAD A last second field goal been true against UCLA, the Sun Devils might have sleep-walked into a frozen Martin Stadium with far less incentive. But as it stands now, they probably have to win out to take the Pac-12 South. So be it. If the Cougars manage to rally their way yo another November upset, let there be no excuses for their success.

Cougars (3-6) vs Sun Devils (6-3)-
7:30 pm Pacific Time

Martin Stadium (37,750)


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ASU by 13

ASU won 42-0 in 2010 in -Tempe.

ASU leads 23-12-2.


Players to Know
Brock Osweiler, QB: The 6-8, 240 pound junior has a strong arm and moves well for a big guy. He's completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,539 yards and 19 scores this year.
Cameron Marshall, RB: ASU's bowling ball feature-back has gained 800 yards and 13 touchdowns in nine games. Backup Jamal Miles is much quicker and more of a receiver out of the backfield.
Gerell Robinson, WR: Osweiler does not have an elite receiving corps and has to spread the ball around. Robinson has been by far the most dangerous target with 743 yards this year. The No. 2 target is quick Oregon transfer Aaron Pflugrad, the son of the former Cougar recruiting coordinator Robin Pflugrad.

Dennis Erickson has been forced to give up some of his control over the offense. Changes have occurred, but it is still mostly the classic spread offense the Cougs are familiar with. They go no-huddle most of the time now and use more short passes. It's not ridiculously potent by Erickson standards but it is balanced and consistent.

ASU has lost every game they've scored less than 30 and won every game where they scored more. An inspired defensive performance is essential. ASU's offensive line is experienced but somewhat undersized. The Cougs have to establish a physical presence and ensure they don't get pushed around. Attack the running lanes and pressure the quarterback. If the Cougs give up big yards on the ground, the game might not even be close. If they can keep Osweiler chilling on the sidelines for long stretches, and force him to put the game on his shoulders when he's under center, this could get interesting. The linebackers and safeties must play tight, solid coverage and keep ASU from nickel and diming WSU down the field.


Players to Know
Vontaze Burfict, ILB: The All-American middle linebacker leads the team in sacks, tackles for a loss and personal fouls. He overshadows a pair of the best outside linebackers in the conference in Shelly Lyons and Colin Parker.
Bo Moos, DT: The interior gap-plugger is the son of WSU's athletic director Bill Moos.

The Devils run a pretty generic 4-3 anchored around their superb linebackers. The secondary is banged up but has held it together pretty well most of the season. The talent is high, but discipline can sometimes be low.

UCLA and Oregon are the only teams to really beat the ASU defense and they did it on the ground. But the Devils aren't invulnerable to the pass. The trick to beating them through the air is to do it early and creatively. ASU has the conference's best third down defense. If the Cougs stumble and bobble their way into third and long, they better get the punt team ready.

Freshman kicker Alex Garoutte is the campus pariah this week missing three field goals in the loss to UCLA. He is just 9-15 this season.

-This game marks the end of one of the longest road stretches in Cougar history. The Cougs have only played one true home game (Stanford) in the last 62 days, with the last one before that back in Week 2.

-It will be hard for WSU fans to recall, but the Cougs have actually played virtually perfect football in 10 of 12 quarters inside Martin Stadium this year.

- This just feels like the game WSU fans have been waiting for this season. Just about everyone expects them to lose, and projections are for a small crowd. But this will be November weather in Pullman and WSU is due to finally explode on someone. It's a late game, it will be cold and though no significant accumulation is expected, snow flurries are in the forecast. This feels like the game the Cougs finally grab by the throat and don't let go of down the stretch…

WSU 34, ASU 33

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