Football game breakdown: Arizona vs. ASU
In each of the last three Territorial Cup games, the road team has won. The Sun Devils will try to extend that streak, but unlike recent years, the Wildcats have an opportunistic defense that thrives on turnovers and a potent and balanced offensive attack.
Here’s our breakdown of Friday’s game:
UA pass offense vs. ASU pass defense
ASU boasts the No. 1 pass defense in the conference, allowing only 174.2 yards per game. Arizona has the fourth-best pass offense, but the Sun Devils have the most sacks in the nation, in large part due to the NFL-level talent of defensive tackle Will Sutton. The junior has 10.5 sacks, good for eighth in the nation and UA quarterback Matt Scott didn’t exactly look 100 percent against Utah last week.
UA rush offense vs. ASU rush defense
The Wildcats have the leading rusher in the nation in Ka’Deem Carey, who is also tied for third in the nation with 19 touchdowns. He has an opportunity to set the school record for single season rushing yardage against the Sun Devils, but Sutton will likely have something to say about that. Sutton leads the conference in tackles for loss, with 18. If the Wildcats’ offensive line can limit Sutton and defense’s impact, Carey will break the record in the early going. But that’s a big “if.”
UA pass defense vs. ASU pass offense
The Wildcats have the worst pass defense in the league, giving up 305.5 yards per game. Arizona has allowed multiple quarterbacks to have career days against them, and receivers to run amuck in open field (see: Marqise Lee, USC) — but the UA has still found ways to win games. ASU has played two quarterbacks for most of the season and average 264.6 yards per game through the air, and the Sun Devils’ offensive line has allowed 37 sacks this year.
UA rush defense vs. ASU rush offense
Again, the Arizona defense simply hasn’t tackled well this season, and recently the formula for teams to beat the Wildcats or keep games close has been to pound the ball in the run game. The Wildcats allow 182.5 yards per game and allowed UCLA and Oregon to rush for a combined 536 yards against them. The Sun Devils, with senior back Cameron Marshall, are fourth in the conference in rushing, at 183.6 yards per game.
The Arizona return game on both kicks and punts is almost non-existent, but the Sun Devils allow 23 yards per return. Kicker John Bonano has improved on his shaky start to the season and punter Kyle Dugandzic is fourth in the conference, averaging 43.3 yards per punt — but the Sun Devils’ Josh Hubner bests that mark with 46.8 yards per punt. ASU has not been as consistent as Arizona in field goals though, making 13-of-21 compared to Arizona’s 12-of-18.
Rodriguez and his offense have shown they are as relevant as ever, with players getting career highs in many offensive statistical categories left and right. Todd Graham and his defense have left quarterbacks and pass offenses reeling all season, but his offense has not been able to keep up, and the Sun Devils have lost four of their last five games after starting things off by going 5-1.