Straight Up Record: 4-2, Against the Spread Record: 2-4
ASU reminds me of if UW had a functional offense and only shat their pants periodically, instead of every game. Note I say “functional” not great. Because for as well-rounded as ASU’s offense is, and as dynamic as some of their athletes are, and as fun to watch as Jayden Daniels is, they really can make dumb plays that screw themselves over. I mean, _five turnovers_? Based on Washington’s offensive ineptitude, the Dawgs don’t have that much of a chance (although of course they should with their talent with even baseline competent coaching), but if they _were_ gonna have a chance, it’d be from the Sun Devils propensity to do stuff like that. If UW can create some turnovers and their offense can have plays extended by Arizona State penalties, that’s really the only way they could win. Which sucks to say, because from a pure roster composition standpoint, that obviously shouldn’t be the case.
On defense, ASU is actually quite similar to Washington, but a bit more well-rounded in that their run defense is more reliable and their secondary less dominant. They’ve got quite a good defensive line, especially the interior, but don’t necessarily rack up a bunch of sacks because they’re a relatively conservative pass rushing philosophy (sound like a team you know?). Still, though, even when they’re not racking up sacks, they make quarterbacks uncomfortable; this all while the back seven tend to do a really good job of clogging up passing lanes and anticipating play. This isn’t the sexiest combination necessarily, but it is a really really effective one. Morris or Huard or the ghost of Cody Pickett or whoever is at quarterback Saturday will have to be poised while anticipating openings if they stand a chance in the air.
Overall, ASU is well-rounded and can be electric when they’re at their best, but they can also make boneheaded decisions. Washington should cross their fingers we get that version of the Sun Devils.
Washington- 17, Arizona State- 24
Straight Up Record: 7-2, Against the Spread Record: 4-5
Has there ever been a Pac-12 game with fewer eligible coaches? Washington is down two with Jimmy Lake’s suspension on John Donovan’s dismissal. Arizona State is missing three due to suspensions for recruiting and Covid policy violations. ASU has been without their coaches for much longer, so we have a clearer idea of what impact it has on their game-planning and execution. The Dawgs are a bit harder to project because we don’t know what the play-calling will look like under Junior Adams or even who will take most of the snaps at QB.
One thing we know for certain is that the Dawgs struggle against the run. Every competent rushing offense has controlled the game against UW by sustaining long, back-breaking drives. Bob Gregory has been in charge of that defense and his elevation to interim head coach is unlikely to create dramatic changes in the scheme. The Sun Devils are one of the best rushing offenses in the country, led by the electric trio of RBs Rachaad White and DeaMonte Trayanum and QB Jayden Daniels. They can throw effectively when they need to, but Daniels has speed and mobility to escape the pocket if UW’s secondary holds up.
When the Sun Devils have lost, they have struggled with self-inflicted wounds, likely related to the scarcity of coaching leadership referenced above. They committed 16 penalties in their loss to BYU, blew a 21-7 lead against Utah (with another 13 penalties), and turned the ball over five times against Washington State. Is it possible for ASU to hand this game to an unwitting UW team? Of course, but the more likely outcome is that they control the game on the ground and UW’s offense continues to muddle beneath its potential.
Washington- 23, Arizona State- 30
Straight Up Record: 3-6, Against the Spread Record: 4-5
You might think that the biggest difference between last week’s game and this week’s involves the opponent but if you close your eyes Oregon and Arizona State are practically the same team. Oregon is 4th in EPA per rush on offense this season and 54th in EPA per pass. The Sun Devils are 8th in EPA per rush and 41st in EPA per pass. Four different ASU players have averaged 5.3 or more yards per carry on 40+ total attempts including QB Jayden Daniels. Even against teams with good run defenses the Sun Devils have been able to run the ball and now they get to go up against Washington...
Instead the biggest difference is actually that the sideline responsibilities will be drastically changed for Washington this week with John Donovan fired and Jimmy Lake suspended. Given the average UW fan’s opinion of each coach’s abilities we would hope that the Dawgs perform better with this arrangement. But it’s truly impossible to know how the team is going to react given all of the distractions around the program.
By far the most likely outcome on Saturday is we see a game that looks stunningly like the majority of Washington’s games. The Huskies manage to put together a few solid drives but the majority of the time they struggle mightily to move the ball. Meanwhile Arizona State is increasingly able to run the ball as the time of possession increases and they grind out the game 5-6 yards at a time with the occasional 15-20 yard burst when the Dawgs miss a tackle. And unfortunately it looks like we may get to add torrential rain in the forecast to the list of similarities to last week. Joy.
Washington- 14, Arizona State- 27
THE FINAL TALLY
Against the Spread (UW +5.5): Washington- 0, Arizona State- 3
Straight Up: Washington- 0, Arizona State- 3
Average Score: Washington- 18.0, Arizona State- 27.0