Washington at Arizona State (10/8 @ 4:00 PM EST)
Line: Washington -14
Washington enters this game as the 21st-ranked team in the country and is hoping to bounce back from a close loss at #19 UCLA last week. They are led by star quarterback Michael Penix Jr, who has already thrown 16 touchdowns on the year and maintains an impressive 166.2 QB rating. He’s surrounded by solid weapons, highlighted by a pair of talented receivers in Jalen McMillan and Rome Odunze. They’ve combined to form one of the most potent passing offenses in all of FBS.
The Huskies’ defense has some speed, but they have shown they can be vulnerable to a strong pass attack. In their three games against FBS opponents, they’ve allowed opposing receivers to have career days. Opposing teams have caught on to this and have pressed them all season. They were also pushed around last week on the ground, yielding 124 rushing yards to Bruins running back Zach Charbonnet. If they’re going to cover on Saturday, they’ll need to re-establish their run defense and force the Devils to air it out.
Conversely, Arizona State’s season has gone about as poorly as it could have. Head coach Herm Edwards was fired after a shocking loss to Eastern Michigan, and rumors have been swirling that his own staff was working on getting him canned. It’s hard to fire a coach after the third game, but it’s made worse when so many players went to Tempe specifically to play for him. On top of coaching drama, they are also under investigation by the NCAA for recruiting violations which led many of their stars to transfer out in search of greener pastures.
As a result, we see an offense filled with transfers and first-year players. This includes starting quarterback Emory Jones. The Florida transfer has struggled to establish a rhythm on offense, with barely 1,000 yards through the air on the year. Some of that can be chalked up to the coaching staff forcing him to use his arm instead of his legs, but he’s been easy to stop all season. ASU’s best player and the biggest threat to the Huskies is running back Xazavian Valladay. Another transfer, Valladay has shown that he has the potential to be an elite FBS running back. He has speed and reads defenses well, but the lack of a passing game hinders his ability to find running room. We saw a flash of what this offense could be in the first half of last week’s game against USC, but it disappeared as the Devils were stomped in the second half. The defense has some talent, but they spend too much time on the field due to the Devil’s inability to move the ball on offense.
Overall, it’s hard to imagine ASU will cover here. With drama in the locker room and sanctions likely coming, most expect many current players and coaches to be elsewhere in 2023. This team has nothing left to play for, and it’s shown in 2022. Herm Edwards has gutted this program, and it will take some years before they can return to national relevance.
Give me the Huskies with the spread. The Devils don’t have the passing game to capitalize on a weak Washington secondary, and they are outmatched everywhere else. I know it’s hard giving up multiple touchdowns on the road, but everything points to a blowout in Tempe on Saturday.