Andrew Berg (6-0 SU, 1-4-1 ATS)
The Sun Devils defense has been bad this year, which plays into the left hand of Michael Penix. Stranger things have happened in this series, but the curse would have to be much worse than I imagine for Arizona State to actually pull off a win.
Wait, that was from my prediction last year, when we unanimously chose UW to win in Tempe and the Dawgs instead lost to ASU for the 13th time in the last 15 meetings. I don’t actually believe in curses and I don’t think that the things Ronnie Fouch did against ASU have any bearing on this year’s team, but many of the same players do redemption on their mind. In a weird way, last year’s loss helps mitigate whatever fear I would have about a psychological letdown after last week’s jubilant win over Oregon.
Between the lines, the matchup looks very good for UW. I fudged a little in the intro because the ASU defense has just been below average, not bad. DL Prince Dorbah leads the team with six sacks and their ability to get pressure has helped the defense as a whole take a step forward. The bigger issue with the team is the overall lack of offensive production. They are averaging only 18 points per game against a schedule that hasn’t even been especially difficult. While Trenton Bourguet has strung together three consecutive 300-yard passing games, his adjusted yards per attempt is a middling 6.7 and he has only thrown one TD. Transfer RB Cameron Skattebo looked like a potential centerpiece, but has averaged under four yards per carry.
Here’s another way to look at it: the most points ASU has scored this year is 28. The fewest points UW has scored is 31. There’s no reason to think that UW will be the worst defense the Sun Devils have faced or that ASU will have the best defense UW has faced. There’s just no substantive reason to believe ASU will win this game. The only thing you can go off of is a curse. But that’s still enough for me not to pick the Dawgs to cover.
Washington- 45, Arizona State- 21
Mark Schafer (6-0 SU, 3-2-1 ATS)
It is now Arizona State week. I can hear the dread creeping into Husky fans’ voices, and it is understandable, considering the opponent and the circumstances (coming off an emotional win, and the fact that we might be drained emotionally). The line certainly doesn’t help matters (26.5 is HUGE). But, this will not be like the matchups of year’s past, and I’m going to tell you why. Firstly, this is a vastly improved defense than the one that faced this same team, with this same QB (Trenton Borguet) who beat us last year. Jabbar Muhammad could be the difference in shutting down Elijah Badger, their best receiver.
The run defense needs to hang in there against a sneaky good running back in Cameron Skattebo. The offense must be ready and on from the jump, but I can excuse a sluggish start coming out in the first. This should be a comfortable win, but I find it difficult to say the Huskies will definitively cover the spread.
Washington-42, Arizona State-24
Iyo Stephensbailey (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS)
ASU....the worst team in the Pac-12 by many many standards. They make this extremely difficult for me because the last three games show an average of about 24 points scored and to cover on that we’d need over 50. Not to say that’s impossible, maybe a USC, Cal, and Colorado defense was just that bad enough. But in a way, yeah, our defense is also a little leaky. And ASU could have figured more of their QB issues out since getting shut out against Fresno. With that being said this can go either way. It can be a 24 point victory or it can be a 28 point victory.
Looking at the numbers Penix doesn’t need a passing explosion to win the Heisman. The difference between him and second place is -140 and +1000 which means the race is virtually locked on him. Five touchdowns is nothing but cream on top at this point.
Meh, this team is fast and our defense can have a game to bring down some averages. I can realistically see UW scoring 52 points, but does ASU score at least 26 and break that spread? No. This was everywhere, I’m aware, but it really was hard. I’m confident in this score.
Washington 52 - Arizona State 20
Max Vrooman (5-1 SU, 2-3-1 ATS)
There are multiple factors here that scare the bejeezus out of me when thinking about this game. If ever there were a spot for an emotional letdown game, it would be this one. The Huskies are coming off a huge rivalry win and now going up against a 1-5 team at home. If ever there was a time when this team gets complacent, it would be now. Add on top of it that the opponent is Arizona State who have largely owned Washington for about two decades now. And add on top of that the fact that Arizona State is coming off a bye and so has a distinct rest advantage.
What makes me less worried is the Arizona State roster. The Sun Devils have been through an apocalypse of injuries and are now on their 3rd string quarterback. That QB, Trenton Bourguet, of course famously beat Washington last year coming off the bench with 3 TD passes. In his last 2 games he has surpassed 330+ passing yards but it has come almost entirely in dink and dunk situations. Two-thirds of his passes come within 9 yards of the line of scrimmage.
That is necessary because the injuries have also decimated ASU’s starting line. They are expected to get back their starting LT this week but several other linemen are questionable while they lost the guy filling in at LT during the bye. If Bralen Trice wants a multi-sack game this season, this would be an opportune time.
The Sun Devils running game has been anemic given that line play. Sacramento State transfer Cameron Skattebo has been hit at the line of scrimmage on 43% of his carries (Dillon Johnson is 32% by contrast). He has averaged under 4 yards per carry this season but also is a very capable receiving option.
On the defensive side there is at least a major strength for ASU. They have had one of the better edge duos in the conference with BJ Green and Prince Dorbah combining for 11 sacks through 6 games. Despite the fearsome pass rush this is a team without a single interception so far this year. Michael Penix Jr. should feast as long as the offensive line holds up against Green and Dorbah.
My every instinct is to pick Arizona State to cover given all of the factors noted at the top (plus injuries to Jalen McMillan and Germie Bernard). At the same time, you know this team wants payback for their loss last season and that the coaching staff will be bringing it up all week. If this team has the killer instinct we hope then they come out and put this away earlier. I’m going to factor in a backdoor score though late for the Sun Devils to make it look closer than it was.
Washington- 38, Arizona State- 23
THE FINAL TALLY
Straight Up: Washington- 4, Arizona State- 0
Against the Spread (UW -25.5): Washington- 1, Arizona State- 3
Average Score: Washington- 44.3, Arizona State- 22.0