The Pac-12 can be a pretty frightening place for college football teams. Aside from the menace posed by perennial powerhouses like Oregon and Stanford, there’s always the fear of an upset by an underrated conference opponent.
This Halloween, things could get interesting for the Arizona State Sun Devils.
After a much-deserved bye week, ASU travels to Pullman, Washington — never an inviting locale — to do battle with Washington State. Coach Mike Leach’s Cougars are apt to be a nasty mood after suffering a 62-38 loss to the Oregon Ducks last weekend.
For the astute observer, it’s apparent that the Pac-12 has achieved a level of parity found nowhere else in college football. Upsets happen in this conference on a regular basis, and every team possesses enough offense firepower to put up a good fight on any given Saturday.
ASU Head Coach Todd Graham has a challenging task in preparing his squad for next Thursday’s contest with Wazzu. Even though the Cougars now stand at 4-4 (2-3 in the Pac-12) and have lost their last two games, they are a dangerous foe — especially on the frigid Palouse.
Against the Ducks, Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday put his team’s “Air Raid” attack to good use. He threw the ball 89 times and completed 58 (both FBS records) for 557 yards (WSU record) and four touchdowns.
It should be noted that Halliday struggled in the second half, and finished the game with four interceptions. However, he regained his composure enough to lead drives ending in his third and fourth touchdown passes of the night, the final two scores of the game.
Washington State sophomore receiver Gabe Marks also had a huge day against Oregon, catching a WSU-record 13 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown. He caught two passes in the final minutes Saturday to set the new mark.
An important point for Arizona State fans tempted to overlook the threat of Leach’s offense: WSU out-first-downed Oregon 35-33. That means the Cougars were moving the ball with efficiency against a stout Duck defense. In addition, Halliday and Co. scored 38 points against Oregon, two touchdowns more than Washington did the previous week.
What kinds of thrills and scares await the Sun Devils in Pullman? Only time will tell.