Sun Devils travel to Rose Bowl to take on UCLA
Not unlike this very point last season, the Arizona State Sun Devils find themselves one win away from bowl eligibility.
The Sun Devils fell one game short a year ago but will have three chances this season to get that elusive sixth win, starting with a trip to the Rose Bowl to take on the UCLA Bruins on Saturday.
The Sun Devils may have caught a break with the possible unavailability of Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen. The junior said he will “absolutely” play on Saturday but has yet to clear concussion protocol.
Rosen is having a season worthy of his pro prospect status with 2713 passing yards and 20 touchdowns against eight interceptions.
Half of those touchdown passes went to senior wide receiver Darren Andrews. The senior is out for the season with a knee injury sustained at Utah last week.
A key matchup will be between the trenches. If the Sun Devils can move the line and create holes for running backs Demario Richards and Kalen Ballage, their offense will be able to score big on the Bruins.
After losing three of its last four games, UCLA needs to put together a quick turnaround and win two of the final three games to salvage the season with a bowl game and possibly save head coach Jim Mora’s job.
Quarterback Manny Wilkins has been efficient and fairly turnover free so far this season. He has only thrown three interceptions but also a measly 11 touchdowns.
His mobility has been a plus but hasn’t thrown for 300 yards since dispatching the Ducks of Oregon in Week 4. Wilkins will need to employ a more balanced game against the UCLA defense.
It’s easy for Arizona State fans to feel optimistic about the Sun Devils’ chances but the team is 1-2 on the road. Both teams will be playing with urgency with their both chances on the line.
Arizona State is 6-4 against UCLA since 2007 and has won the last four games against the Bruins. The streak may continue but will be a tall task.