|Arizona RB Ka'Deem Carey took over the national lead in rushing yards by gaining more than 500 the past two weeks. (AP)|
Kickoff: Friday, 10 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Spread: Arizona by 3
Watchability: Given the state of affairs of the respective teams entering the season, not bad. Not bad at all. Both have taken strides, and the winner of this game should have good momentum heading into the always-fun recruiting battle.
Shining Stars: Arizona State -- TE Chris Coyle. Snubbed by the Mackey Award finalist list that features three other Pac-12 stars, Coyle took it out on Washington State. He had three receptions for 53 yards with two touchdowns, putting him at a solid 445 yards for the year. Arizona -- RB Ka'Deem Carey. Carey has been a breakout superstar for coach Rich Rodriguez, as he leads the nation in rushing with almost 1,600 yards. The Wildcats' faithful knew the local product would be good, but not this good, and not this fast.
Who could steal the show: Arizona State -- DB Keelan Johnson. Johnson was key against the Cougars, intercepting two passes to give him four this season. But he can impact games in other ways, as his 100-plus career tackles attest. Arizona -- LB Jake Fischer. Fischer has been consistently good this year, with eight-plus tackles in eight games. He ranks second in the conference in tackles per game, but his biggest contribution Friday might be in his handling of running backs out of the backfield, where the Sun Devils have found much success.
You going? Ranking the road trip: With the stakes even moderately raised this year, it should be a fun atmosphere. Arizona can capitalize on momentum from an eight-win season, and the Sun Devils have a chance to show much-needed progress, so both teams know what they're playing for -- other then the Territorial Cup trophy, which has been certified as the oldest of its kind by the NCAA.
Magic number for Arizona State: 1.00. The Sun Devils rank first in the conference in turnover margin with plus-one per game, and that could be the difference in a close matchup.
Magic number for Arizona: 487. In the midst of a miserable three-win season last year, the Wildcats pulled out a big win over the Sun Devils. But that was despite 487 passing yards by ASU QB Brock Osweiler. Arizona will probably want to cut down that number drastically against QB Taylor Kelly.
The game comes down to: Arizona State's ability to pressure QB Matt Scott. Scott has been at his best when the pocket is fluid, but chaotic situations cause a breakdown in fundamentals. Against a great Sun Devil front that includes DT Will Sutton, the veteran will need to keep his eyes open.
Prediction: Arizona 34, Arizona State 28