Saturday, Nov 23rd, 4:00 PST, FOX
While the Pac-12 North got all the pre-season attention, #17 Arizona State and #14 UCLA have quietly put together fine seasons in their own right. The winner of this game will be in great position to win the Pac-12 South. Both of these teams rely on strong defenses to pressure their opponents into making mistakes. It’s no mistake that both are in the top 25 in turnover margin (ASU #10, UCLA #22). A lot of that has to do with the NFL talent they have on that side of the ball. Arizona State has one of the best penetrating D-linemen in DT Will Sutton (6’1” 290lb SR). He put on weight in the offseason, but it’s difficult to tell how much that has helped. Sutton still penetrates, but is playing more of a space eater role in the defense. Sutton doesn’t have to get after the quarterback because OLB #52 Carl Bradford (6’1” 233lb JR) is doing plenty of that. Bradford is more a speed guy, which will be beneficial against the mobile Hundley. LT/G #56 Xavier Su’A-Filo (6’3” 304lb JR) will do his best to keep Braford at bay, but it won’t be easy. UCLA QB Brett Hundley (6’3” 227lb SO) has a strong arm, good pocket awareness, and great mobility. Those attributes will best tested aginst the Sun Devils. Hundley is still a potential 1st Rounder, but he’s going to have to show better composure than he did against Oregon and Stanford. He’s also going to have to look out for CB Osahon Irabor (5’11” 182lb SR). Irabor is a blitzing corner, who is tough to pick up in coverage. For Arizona State’s offense they are going to have to play mistake free ball, and not let UCLA’s defense flip the field on them. Expect RB #1 Marion Grice (6’0” 200lb SR) to carry the bulk of the load. He’s a Terrell Davis-like runner, who is perfectly content gaining 4 YPC. With OLB #11 Anthony Barr (6’4” 248lb JR) in the mix, they are going to want to keep Taylor Kelly out of obvious passing situations. Barr is a great all around player, but his pass rushing skills are what separate him from the good players. Don’t be surprised if ASU tries to neutralize Barr by forcing him to cover running backs Grice and DJ Foster in the flat and downfield. Barr will be able to do it, but it will take him out of the play. If that happens, DE #99 Cassius Marsh (6’4” 266lb SR) and freshman do everything OLB #30 Myles Jack will have to pick up the slack. Expect Marsh and ILB #6 Eric Kendricks (6’0” 228lb JR) to be the ones tasked with stopping Grice. This is no doubt a battle of great defenses, and at the end of the game the offense that’s able to limit mistakes will be on the winning side.
Arizona St Players to Watch: Marion Grice RB #1 SR -- Chris Coyle TE #87 SR -- Will Sutton DT #90 SR -- Carl Bradford WLB #52 JR -- Osahon Irabor CB #24 SR -- Alden Darby SS #4 SR
UCLA Players to Watch: Brett Hundley QB #17 SO -- Shaq Evan WR #1 SR -- Xavier Su’A-Filo LG #56 -- Anthony Barr OLB #11 SR -- Eric Kendricks ILB #6 -- Cassius Marsh DE #99 SR – Myles Jack OLB #30 FR
Key Matchups: Grice v. Kendricks -- Su’A-Filo v. Bradford – Irabor v. Evans