A dangerous ASU visit lay ahead for Washington

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 19: Defensive back Maurice Chandler
SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 19: Defensive back Maurice Chandler /

Playing in the state of Arizona is known in the Pac-12 to be a difficult task. No. 5 Washington visits Arizona State this weekend before a bye week and five more conference challenges.

It’s a strange phenomenon that plagues Pac-12 contenders seemingly every year. Washington avoided it last year, defeating an inferior Arizona team by just a single score in overtime. This year, the Huskies take a trip to Tempe to face Arizona State.

It’s tough to even label this as a trap game, despite the high level of competition remaining on UW’s conference calendar. The Sun Devils are a legit threat to win any game they play in the conference thanks to a streaky offense and a few primary playmakers.

Will head coach Chris Petersen be successful in preparing his Huskies for another “cupcake” on the road?

ASU’s success at home

Arizona State is not an easy program to root for given its inconsistency and notoriously leaky defense. ASU does have a knack for defending Sun Devil Stadium, and has seen plenty of late night thrillers in the past couple years.

The Sun Devils are 2-3 on the year, with both wins coming at home. ASU opened the season with a 37-31 home victory over New Mexico State, before losing the following week to San Diego State. The Aztecs have proven to be a legitimate program in 2017, sitting undefeated at No. 19 in the AP Poll.

Arizona State also won a close one at home over Oregon, 37-35, thanks to a game winning field goal with under three minutes to play.

A year ago Arizona State went just 5-7, but won four of six home games. These wins included high scoring efforts over Texas Tech, Cal, and UCLA.

The last time the two squared off in Tempe was in 2015. Arizona State scored 27 unanswered points to take down the Huskies, 27-17.

Predicting Saturday’s action

This will undoubtedly be a challenge for the Huskies, the this team has shown composure and maturity through six weeks of the season. Washington should find easy success running the ball against a weak front seven for ASU. Running backs Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman may both have huge days on offense.

The UW defense hasn’t allowed over 30 points in 20 games, and that trend shows no sign of stopping. The Huskies do their damage on the pass rush, while containing the running game and getting stops on third down.

A repeat of last year’s 44-18 blowout in Seattle is possible, unless ASU quarterback Manny Wilkens has a huge day. Washington outgained Arizona State 539 to 245 in total yardage.

Wilkens is capable of racking up yards through the air and on the ground, but runs into trouble if he fails to take care of the football. Against a Stanford secondary that’s comparable to Washington’s, Wilkens through for 181 yards and two picks.

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The UW defense continued its dominance against Cal last week, holding the Golden Bears for just 94 total offensive yards. Barring something crazy, Washington should win this challenge by double digits.