Arizona State’s month of October has, in some ways, been Jekyll and Hyde.
A mostly disastrous defensive showing against USC was somehow saved by a “JaelMary.” Two weeks later Todd Graham’s team put together their best all-around performance man-handling defending Pac-12 Champ Stanford.
So what will this weekend bring?
It sounds as though all-Pac-12 quarterback Taylor Kelly will be back leading the offense for the first time in nearly six weeks for the 14th-ranked Sun Devils (5-1, 3-1) after a foot injury has kept him sidelined since a mid-September win over Colorado in Boulder. The stakes are higher with back-to-back-wins over ranked teams and two more next month (Utah, Notre Dame), but first things first is a trip to northwest against Washington (5-2, 2-1) who are coming off a 45-20 loss to Oregon in Eugene.
“They better get ready this weekend,” ESPN college football analyst and former UW quarterback Brock Huard said about his alma mater to Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat in a phone interview Wednesday morning. “This Huskies team with [head coach] Chris Petersen is a team that doesn’t beat themselves. This is a team that has bounced back with some adversity earlier this year after that Stanford loss.”
The Devils are not immune to adversity themselves. Backup quarterback Mike Bercovici has performed admirably spelling Kelly and, from what we saw in Saturday’s 26-10 win over the Cardinal, a young defense appears to be growing up. Further, ASU played arguably their best special teams game since Graham was hired last Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium.
The Huskies are looking to erase the memories of last year’s 53-24 ASU blowout in Tempe. These two teams are much different in nearly every aspect as Graham and Petersen match wits for the first time in the Pac-12. The two are familiar with one another when Graham was coaching Tulsa and Petersen was at Boise State. The two have even swapped strategy and concepts in the past. Petersen inherited defensive talent when he took over for Steve Sarkisian back in December.
“You’ve got some real NFL-caliber difference makers on this defense and their ability,” Huard told Cesmat. “This is not going to be an easy one to get Saturday night for the Devils.”
The Devils have won the last eight meetings against the Huskies and have not lost in Seattle in 17 years.