Tag Archives: ASU Sun Devils

UW vs. ASU Predictions

The Huskies season is at a crossroads as they head toward kickoff in Tempe.  Right now, they are where everyone expected them to be.  One might have hoped for five wins or worried about three losses, but 4-2 right now was the most realistic positive scenario.  The question is where they go from here.

The Huskies of the last few years would struggle with all of the tough road games remaining.  We’d hope they’d take one of the ASU, OSU and UCLA games.  That still might happen.  I think this team is different though.

There are certain things a winning team does.  There are always excuses and reasons for not winning games.  It would’ve been nice to have a more than 1 of 5 of the Huskies toughest games at home, rather than have the five easiest opponents in Husky Stadium.  That’s unfortunate.  Every season has these types of scenarios, though, where not everything comes up perfectly.  The good teams win despite the circumstances.  And then, on those incredibly rare occasions where everything falls perfectly into place, the good teams become great and challenge for Rose Bowls and national championships.

I don’t know if the Huskies are quite to that level yet, but I think they’re closer to being the type of team unaffected by their circumstances than they are to the team that’s stumbled to seven wins of late.  They play with a confidence and assurity that is new this season.  They still have to prove it, though, every game.  A trip to Arizona State is the perfect place to start.

Joe

Three losses in a row is a very real possibility for the Dawgs this weekend, something UW has done every year under Sark.  On the road in Tempe is never easy, especially when ASU has talent, which they have this season. That said, this team seems to be different.  They’ve played well in both road games this year and were in the game vs Oregon last week until Mariota went all Mariota on them.  Bishop Sankey is *the* best running back in America and I don’t think ASU slows him down.  Look for Kasen and ASJ to have bounce back games.  The Sun Devils are a step down from Stanford and Oregon, and it will show. UW takes this one in front of 20k+ Husky fans who make the trip south.

UW 43 – ASU 32

Andrew

I’m not really sure what to expect tomorrow.  In the past decade there is no way this team would win this game.  They are about equal in talent to Arizona State (although I’d say the Huskies have more talent), it’s a road game and the team just played two very tough games.  I do believe that this team is different though and that’s why I’m picking the Huskies today.  If they play fast and don’t come out flat, I don’t know why they would lose.  They match-up pretty well against the Sun Devils and I think Bishop will have another big day.  Let’s hope so!  Go Dawgs!

UW 38 – ASU 30

Dan

The question Husky Nation has been asking for the last few years is when will this team take the next step, from good to great. 5 years ago all we wanted was to be respectable, but bowl games are the norm again and there’s no doubt this season will end at a bowl game. But there’s a big difference, at least in perception, between 6-8 wins and 9-11. The arrow is pointing up for UW but it’s time to take that next step, and a win on the road against a ranked opponent would be huge. Great teams win these games, while good ones take care of inferior opponents, win the occasional home game upset, but then lose road games versus good teams. That’s pretty much been UW in the Sark era.

As for the game itself, it sure feels like  we will see a lot of offense. ASU has a ton of weapons and when Taylor Kelly is on his game, he is a top 5 QB in this conference. I think he’s the key to the game. The Huskies proved at Stanford that they can bring their game on the road and compete, but can they finish the job? Let’s not forget that this game is huge for ASU too, similarly a potential season definer. In the end, I think the Huskies have a great shot to win this game, but until I see that they can win a game like this, I have a hard time picking them.

Sun Devils 34 – Huskies 27

Matthew

I think if this game were on a neutral field, the Huskies would win fairly easily.  ASU is a good team, especially on offense.  Their defense has been mediocre though, and the offense one-dimensional enough to be stoppable.  ASU has been much better at home, particularly Taylor Kelly.  I think the Huskies are a different team on the road this season, but I’m worried playing at home will bring out the potentially elite side of ASU, instead of the average-ish side they show often.

I’m still not terribly worried about the Husky defense.  They’ll have their hands full with the Sun Devils, but it’s a manageable job.  I’m a little more worried about the offense.  They still seem to be looking for an identity in the passing game.  They’ve gone away from the quick screens and perimeter attack in favor of attacking the intermediate sidelines, with the occasional pass over the middle, usually deep.  If they can find the right balance, and figure out a way to better incorporate ASJ, the offense could explode.  The line also needs to continue to improve, especially with Will Sutton and Carl Bradford aimed at Keith Price.  I’m betting on the Huskies today, because I think they’ve become a team that wins these games, but it’ll be tough down in the desert.

UW 38 – ASU 24

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Running with the Pac: Week 5

And we’re back with our rankings of who had the best week in the Pac-12. Remember, these aren’t overall power rankings for the season (those will come in a day or two).  They are just rankings of which teams had the best games and weeks.  Teams on a bye are left off unless something happens to warrant inclusion.

1. Stanford Cardinal beat WSU 55-17

I had doubts about the Cardinal before the season, and their first few weeks didn’t do a lot to quell them.  An offense already short on playmakers lost two excellent tight ends and a star running back.  A defense supposed to be among the best in the country looked a bit lackluster for the first couple of games as well.  Stanford has changed course in a hurry.  The defense pounded WSU, knocking Connor Halliday out of the game, and the offense has added a vertical passing dimension it hasn’t had in a while.  I’m still not a complete believer in Stanford, but they look like a completely different offense from the one the Huskies beat last year.

2. Arizona State Sun Devils beat USC 62-41

ASU badly needed a win to maintain any shot at challenging UCLA in the south, and they got it in unexpected fashion.  Everyone knows about USC’s offensive woes, but their defense had been excellent.  ASU showed all of their offensive weapons in an explosion that cost Lane Kiffin his job.  Giving up 41 is concerning, but the win is still big.

3. UW Huskies beat Arizona 31-13

It’s unclear how good the Huskies opponents have been, which makes it tough to know how the Huskies are.  Or maybe it’s the other way around.  Either way, the Huskies handled what looked like a solid but limited Arizona squad.  It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t the blowout Dawg fans were hoping for, but I think that had as much to do with the first half monsoon as with anything the Huskies did.  There was a point where both teams seemed to give up on doing anything more than handing off, and that was a bigger detriment to UW than Arizona.  The defense was stingy all day, and the offense exerted its will most of the game.  It’s a big win for the Huskies, but it didn’t provide as much clarity on the Huskies ability as I’d hoped.  That’ll come soon.

4. OSU Beavers beat Colorado 44-17

After their well-documented slow start, the Beavers are rallying.  They haven’t beat anyone of consequence, but they’ve done what’s necessary to get their season back on track.  I still think their defense will keep them out of the top half of the division, but the offense is as dangerous as any.  Sean Mannion to Brandin Cooks is maybe the top duo in the country.

5. Oregon Ducks beat Cal 55-16

Oregon demolished another poor opponent.  The main reason they’re at the bottom of the winning teams is De’Anthony Thomas’s injury.  It doesn’t sound serious, but he’s likely out this weekend, and hopefully (for the Huskies) the one after.

6. Arizona Wildcats lost to UW 31-13

No one had a “good loss” this week, but Arizona’s wasn’t terrible: on the road, to a ranked opponent, competitive.  As I said, the weather made it hard to glean a lot from that game, but Arizona has a solid defense and an excellent running back.  Quarterback is what’s going to hold them down.  BJ Denker gave no indication he can be any passing threat whatsoever.  The Cats can beat the bad teams, but they’re going to struggle greatly against good defenses until they find a semblance of a passing game.

7. Colorado Buffaloes lost to OSU 44-17

The next three are all pretty interchangeable, but we’ll give the Buffs the top spot because we had low expectations of them and they didn’t suffer any notable injuries or embarrassments that I’m aware of.  The loss did show how far Colorado still has to go before they’ll be competitive.

8. California Golden Bears lost to Oregon 55-16

No one expected Cal to keep this close, but I thought they’d put up a few more points, or at least yards.  They now have a bit of a quarterback controversy as well, for reasons unclear to me.  They switched mid-game from starter Jared Goff to give Zach Kline some snaps.  Maybe it was just to protect the less mobile Goff, but if they were expecting more from a true freshman against Oregon, they’re crazy.  Goff was good enough before Saturday to justify the surprising decision to go with him to start the season, and to change now seems strange to me.  I’d expect to see Goff back in there throwing like crazy.  It might not get Cal many wins, but a dynamic passing game is all they have going for them.

9. WSU Cougars lost to Stanford 55-17

The Cougars go below the previous two because they actually had hopes of a win, hopes that Stanford tore apart and sent down the storm drains with the rain.  WSU’s supposedly improved defense was overmatched, and the offense did next to nothing.  I do think WSU’s better than last year, but their improvement has been overstated.  A big problem is the quarterback.  Halliday can do some things, but he balances his plusses with terrible mistakes.  Austin Apodaca looked decent when he came on for the injured Halliday, but he’s not going to be a magical cure should the Cougars go to him more in the future.  The Cougars might be on the right track, but Stanford showed it’s going to be a slower journey than Cougar fans had hoped.

10. USC Trojans lost to ASU 62-41

Let’s recap USC’s Saturday/early Sunday. They were demolished by ASU, giving up more points in one game than they had all season up to that point.  They lost multiple defenders to injury, depleting a roster already demolished due to scholarship sanctions.  All-world WR Marquise Lee, suffering a poor season due to inconsistent quarterback play, had a knee injury that looked bad, although it’s unknown how long he’ll be out.  And, to top it off, Lane Kiffin was fired as soon as the plane landed back in LA.  It’s been about as bad a week as USC could have imagined.  A few positives: USC still has plenty of talent, and it might respond to new coach Ed Orgeron.  The running game with Tre Madden and Justin Davis has been a solid plus for an offensive that’s struggled.  And whatever else one wants to say about Kiffin, his playcalling this season has been strange at best.  A new mind running the offense might get better results.  Or it might not.  It’s hard to know what the rest of the season will bring, but this was an inevitable move.  Let’s just say that as a fan of another Pac-12 team, I’d much rather have Lane Kiffin as USC’s coach than whomever they hire to replace him.

-Matthew

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Runnin’ With The Pac: Week 3

Once again, rankings of who had the best week in the Pac-12.  These are not overall power rankings, just who had the best game/week last week.  Teams on a bye are excluded unless something warrants it.

1. UCLA Bruins beat Nebraska 41-21

What a tough week for the Bruins.  Last Sunday they lost a player, Nick Pasquale, who was killed in a car wreck.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, teammates and coaches.  Dealing with a death like that is so far beyond anything happening on the football field, and it showed as UCLA struggled in the first half on Saturday.  They stormed back to blow-out Nebraska and earn the Pac-12’s best victory thus far.  No matter how you usually feel about UCLA, this was a win everyone can be excited for them to get.  It doesn’t replace losing a member of their family, but if it helps give them meaning and a chance to move on, it will be worth something.  Best wishes to everyone involved, and we hope you find overwhelming love and support through the next months.

2. ASU Sun Devils beat Wisconsin 32-30

ASU didn’t always look good, but they looked better most of the game than did the Badgers.  And come on, how great was that ending!  It was wrong in oh so many ways, and Wisconsin has every right to be furious.  It was also one of the craziest things I’ve seen on the field in a while.  I’d put them number two just because of how much enjoyment it brought me, but it was also a solid win against a ranked team.  ASU didn’t look perfect, but they’re a tough team when they get rolling.

3. USC Trojans beat Boston College 35-7

After their terrible showing against WSU, the Trojans finally did some things right.  Kiffin named Cody Kessler as quarterback, and he was solid.  Even more encouraging was a strong day in the running game and signs that Marquise Lee is getting untracked.  He only caught two balls, but they went for 90 yards.  BC isn’t good, but USC did exactly what they needed to get their season at least going in the direction of the right track.

4. Oregon Ducks beat Tennessee 59-14

Not much to say here, as Oregon pummeled yet another mediocre opponent.  I wish we could see them play someone, but they’re disposing quickly of anyone they see.

5. UW Huskies beat Illinois 34-24

Illinois is probably about as good as Tennessee, but the Huskies weren’t nearly as dominant as Oregon was.  Still, road wins are always good, and the Dawgs were a few mistakes from a blow-out.  They need to stop making mistakes.  Don’t do dumb stuff, Huskies!

6. Oregon State Beavers beat Utah 51-48

The Beavs are tied with WSU for the Pac-12 lead.  Have a good laugh.  Take your time.  The good news is that, in what was something of a must win, the Beavers did, and salvaged any hope their season had.  The bad news is they didn’t look too great doing it and the defense continues to struggle mightily.  OSU usually improves over the year, except for that year they really didn’t.  They’re going to score plenty of points, but the defense doesn’t have any answers right now.  Glad to see Storm Woods is okay, though.  That was a scary moment for a talented guy.

7. (Tie) Arizona Wildcats beat UTSA 38-13 WSU Cougars beat Southern Utah 48-10

Both teams beat weak opponents fairly handily, so I’m giving them the tie.  I saw some of the WSU game and none of Arizona’s so I can’t say a ton.  WSU looked shaky early, but they managed to take care of business.  Both teams are doing what they need to do, but stiffer challenges await.

9. Stanford Cardinal beat Army 34-20

Unimpressive win for a top five Stanford squad.  The passing game is looking better than expected, but the defense struggled a bit with Army.  That shouldn’t happen.  Stanford is probably fine, but they look a bit suspect, and that’s enough to drop them to 9th in a strong week for the conference.

10. California Golden Bears lost to Ohio St. 52-34

Cal got whupped by OSU, but they did manage to put up 34 points.  QB Jared Goff is a keeper (literally. I have him in fantasy.  I might keep him) and the offense is fairly loaded and in a system well-fitted to their strengths.  Unfortunately for the Bears, the defense is horrendous.  I mean, it’s really bad.  Really really bad.  Cal could be good soon, but I don’t think it’s going to happen this year.

11. Utah Utes lost to OSU 51-48

The Utes get the basement for losing a conference game at home they were in position to win.  The good news is they were in position to win, and the offense is dramatically improved from last year.  Alas, they still lost, and the Utes aren’t good enough yet to be losing conference games at which they have a shot.

Honorary Listing: Colorado Buffaloes

Colorado had their match with Fresno State postponed due to the incredible flooding taking place.  Again, prayers and well wishes to all those suffering loss in the tragedy.  Cancelling the game was the right move.  Still, it was probably unfortunate for Colorado, who have been playing reasonably well and were looking for some revenge against FSU for last year’s beating.  Last I heard, they haven’t decided for sure if the game will be rescheduled, although they hope to.  Hopefully Colorado dries out soon and the Buffs can resume their slow improvement on the field.

Here’s to a week with fewer tragedies and even more great games.  Stay safe everybody.

-Matthew

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Head of the Pac: Week Two

This is a new thing I’m trying this season.  Last week it was just called Ranking the Pac-12.  Prepare yourself for a slew of bad “Pac” related titles until I find one I like.  Anyway, this is not a power ranking.  It is a subjective ranking of who had the best week the week before.  Teams who didn’t play will be left off unless something significant enough to merit a ranking happened. This week there was one interesting game and lots of blowouts of cupcakes.  The schedule gets a lot better in week 3.  Let’s do this.

1. WSU Cougars beat USC 10-7

I have some misgivings putting the Cougs at the top, because they really didn’t look too great, USC looked horrific, and they’re the Cougars.  Still, WSU got a road win over USC and is leading the Pac-12 North.  I would never have guessed either of those things would have happened this year.  WSU’s defense looked good, but there’s no arguing it was helped significantly by terrible quarterbacking and worse play-calling for USC.  The offense didn’t manage a touchdown, and was maybe worse than USC’s before the big catch and run that put them in field goal position.  The Cougars are certainly better than they were, but I’m unconvinced of how much.  Strangely, it’s the defense that has made the greatest strides under Mike Leach.

2. Oregon Ducks beat Virginia 59-10

The Ducks weren’t perfect, but any complaints are extremely minor when you beat an FBS  team on the road by 49 points.  I doubt Tennessee will fare much better this week.  The Ducks might not be challenged much before coming to Husky Stadium in a few weeks.

3. Utah Utes beat Weber State 70-7

Everything gets a little murky through the vast middle of these rankings.  No one played anyone good and most teams won big.  Extra points and the number three ranking to Utah for doing something I wouldn’t have believed them capable of before the season: putting up 70 points.  That’s a lot, regardless of the opponent.

4. ASU Sun Devils beat Sacramento St. 55-0

I like blowout shutouts.  This is an appropriate score given the teams involved, but it’s always encouraging to see a team nearly perfect on opening night.  This Saturday gets much tougher with Wisconsin coming to town.

5. Stanford Cardinal beat San Jose St. 34-13

Stanford wasn’t incredible, but they handled one of the week’s better opponents easily.  Offense is going to be the question for the Tree.  They’re lacking in established skill players outside of QB Kevin Hogan.  The defense and O Line will have to carry them until they can get clicking.

6. Arizona Wildcats beat UNLV 58-13

Another big win over a weak opponent. The passing game is struggling for the Cats.  Luckily they have All-American Kadeem Carey back from suspension.  Carey is one of the few players to ever be suspended for being an All-American.  The guy’s amazing in so many ways.

7. Oregon State Beavers beat Hawaii 33-14

We have reached the section: “Unimpressive wins against terrible opponents”.  Hawaii is terrible.  Even USC beat them handily.  OSU did too, but it took a while.  The game was in question for the first half before the Beavs pulled away.  They also lost the defense’s captain and maybe best player, LB Mike Doctor. At least he should heal quickly (Doctor joke).  Actually, probably not: 6-8 weeks out. The O Line is beat up as well.  We’ll see if the Beavers can rally, but it’s looking like a potentially long season.  Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks are pretty great though.

8. (Tie) California Golden Bears beat Portland St. 37-30; Colorado Buffaloes beat Central Arkansas 38-24

Many similarities here.  Both teams struggled to beat bad opponents.  Both had some standout offensive performances: Jared Goff went over 450 yards for the second game in a row for Cal, with many of those yards going to WR Bryce Treggs; Buff WR Paul Richardson had his second straight 200 yard receiving game.  That’s never been done before in the Pac-12.  Good stuff.  Unfortunately, the rest of the team isn’t that great, for both squads.

10. USC Trojans lost to WSU 10-7

Oh, USC.  Where to even begin?  This was one of the worst offensive performances I have ever seen.  Both quarterbacks are bad and made worse by Lane Kiffin’s poor handling and ridiculously terrible play-calling.  Maybe my biggest question is why both quarterbacks are so bad.  Both guys were highly rated and possess obvious physical skills.  It’s no surprise if one of them doesn’t develop, but I find it quite strange that both are struggling so greatly.  One more strike against Kiffin.  Unfortunately for him, he’s already wearing a Golden Sombrero.  The defense is good enough to sustain them if they can show even the slightest threat on offense, but that’s looking like a lot to ask for at the moment. That sentence is really depressing if you simultaneously look at their roster.  They have so much talent it’s crazy.  This team is going to have to drastically improve if they want to save Kiffin’s job, let alone get to a bowl game.  I’d put Kiffin at about a 3% chance of returning next year.

-Matthew

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Waiting for Deantre Lewis to Shine

Deantre Lewis is probably not a name familiar to most Pac-12 football fans, but it very easily could have been.  Lewis, an Arizona State Sun Devil, was a stray bullet away from being a star.

Lewis first started to make a name for himself in 2010 as a true freshman.  The running back burst on the scene as a major playmaker, the proverbial flash to Cameron Marshall’s thunder.  In his first game he scored three touchdowns and ended the year with over 500 rushing yards and another 370 yards receiving.  He looked like a potential star in the conference and was poised to form a dangerous duo with Marshall on a potentially great ASU team in 2011.

That offseason, Lewis made a short trip home to visit his sister and her new baby.  After commuting to a high school well out of his home neighborhood and earning his scholarship, Lewis thought he had avoided the trouble that surrounded him growing up.  That short two day trip was long enough for it to find him, though, as he was shot by a stray bullet.  He wasn’t involved in any kind of altercation and deserved no part of the blame.  It was just terrible luck.

Lewis escaped probable death when the bullet missed an artery by three centimeters, and somehow rejoined the football team with hopes of playing in 2011.  The bullet damaged his hamstring, however, and he never made it onto the field.  This year, he suffered through a few injuries in training camp and found himself behind not only Marshall but also true freshman D.J. Foster on the depth chart.

I’ve been a fan of the guy since his career started, beyond just feeling bad for him and hoping he could make it back.  I probably wouldn’t have known about him except for a Pac-12 fantasy league we Good Guys do.  I grabbed him early in 2010 and he helped me win the league, but my enduring memory of him came before ASU’s 2010 game at UW.  We have seats in the open end zone bleachers, which feel like they are almost in the end zone.  The Sun Devils were warming up right in front of us, and the running backs were getting ready to go through drills when some song came on.  All of the backs started dancing, which made Andrew and I crack up.  Most stopped after a couple of bars, but Deantre danced for a good couple of minutes, all by himself.  The guy could dance.  Every time we thought he would stop, he’d bust out a new move.  It was great, one of those meaningless moments that give you an idea of what type of person a player is and sets them apart as a little bit special.  I don’t have any recollection of that game except for Deantre Lewis dancing.  He seemed like a star.

This week news broke that he’s moving to the defensive side of the ball.  Evidently, he was really pounding people on special teams, and considering his spot on the depth chart, the coaches asked if he wanted to move to defense, in a hybrid DB/LB role.  He immediately said yes.  He went on to tell reporters that he still has a lot of anger and that he felt playing defense would help him let some of that anger out in a positive way.  I want to make clear that he didn’t sound like an angry guy.  It’s easy to stereotype a football player who grew up in a bad neighborhood and think he’s just an angry guy who only wants to hit people.  Deantre Lewis was shot, and it wasn’t in an altercation; it was while he was visiting his family after a life of trying to make good and stay out of trouble.  He has every right to be angry.

Position changes frequently amount to nothing, but I’m hoping this one turns Lewis into the star he always looked like.  We’re always in need of good stories, no matter which team they play for.  I’ll be cheering for Deantre Lewis every Saturday this fall, and if the Huskies get ASU at home in the next two years, I’m hoping Deantre still feels like dancing.

-Matthew

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