USA Today Sports/James Snook

5 keys for the Cougs vs. Devils

THE COUGARS HAVE oddsmakers on their side for tonight’s game at Arizona State, but history is decidedly with ASU. Sun Devil Stadium has been a house of horrors for WSU the last two decades, with the 1994 Palouse Posse and the 2001 Jason Gesser-led Cougs the only bulwarks against a string of double-digit desert setbacks. For the Cougs to get back on the winning track this evening, they must do five things.

WHEN WSU HAS THE BALL ...

1. Attack but avoid silly mistakes.

ASU has college football's worst-ranked pass defense, but Luke Falk cannot get overzealous. He threw for 600 yards in his last trip to Tempe, but six turnovers made it all for naught.

2. Get ahead early.

ASU's offense is not in a position to keep pace in a shootout, so the sooner the Cougars offense can get them a lead, the sooner the defense can leverage it against them.


WHEN WSU IS ON DEFENSE ...

3. Contain the running backs.

ASU has asked the running backs to do more with all their injuries at QB, and they have not delivered. Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage have averaged just 65 rushing yards per game since Manny Wilkins got hurt.

4. Force Wilkins to move.

Wilkins suffered a high ankle sprain three weeks ago, but injuries to their second and third string quarterbacks pressed him back into service early.

He is a great playmaker when healthy, but lack of mobility is effecting his running and passing game.

5. Minimize disasters.

Most of ASU’s best plays were on special teams the last two weeks.  Don't let that side of the ball have a disproportionate influence on momentum.

The Matt Moore Prediction: 35-23 Cougs

  • KICKOFF: 7 pm Pacific in Tempe
  • TELEVISION: Pac-12 Networks
  • THE LINE: Cougs by 7 1/2
  • THE RECORDS: Cougs 4-2 (3-0); Devils 5-2 (2-2)
  • AP RANKINGS: Cougs 29th, Devils 34th

Check back with CF.C after the game for  our wall-to-wall coverage and during the game for lively message board conversation.

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