Ask any player or coach on the ASU football team what their goals were prior to the season and you’ll get a brief answer: win the Pac-12 south.
Now 10 weeks into the season that aspiration is on life support. There’s no more room for error. Backs are against the wall.
Likely needing UCLA to lose once and themselves to win out, the Sun Devils (6-3, 4-2 Pac-12) travel to Washington State Saturday to meet the slumping Cougars (3-6, 1-5 Pac-12) with their Pac-12 title hopes on the line.
“It’s about pride, it’s about the program and it’s about the seniors,” ASU coach Dennis Erickson said. “There’s a lot of football left and our guys know that.”
The high for the game in Pullman will be a brisk 39 degrees. With the vast majority of the team from the southwest, it’ll be a unique and chilly experience.
“Maybe we’ll be making snow angels,” said ASU junior quarterback Brock Osweiler, who is one of the few Sun Devils born in cold weather. “But you don’t change anything, there are little tricks to help stay warm but it’s going to be fun. It’ll be a new challenge for us.”
After starting the season 3-1, WSU has lost its last five games. In its last four, the team hasn’t been within 15 points of an opponent. The Cougars do, however, rank seventh and eighth in the conference in total offense and total defense.
“I don’t know if their record shows how good they are,” Osweiler said. “I expect a great atmosphere and a great fight out of them.”
Offensively, WSU is second in the Pac-12 in passing, averaging 298 yards through the air each game. Senior quarterback Marshall Lobbestael threw for 337 yards against then-No. 7 Oregon. Sophomore wide receiver Marquess Wilson is third in the conference in receiving with 108.2 yards per game.
“They’re a sound team,” ASU senior wide receiver Gerell Robinson said. “They have better athletes than they had in previous years. They’re more aggressive, it’s kind of like a new team and I’m excited to play against them.”
For ASU redshirt defensive tackle Bo Moos, Saturday will mean a little more to him than the rest of the Sun Devils’ games. He was born in Pullman and his father, Bill Moos, is the current athletic director of WSU.
“Obviously he doesn’t really get a chance to see many of my games,” Bo said. “Last time we played there in 2009, I hadn’t made my way on the field yet, so this will be the first time I will play in Pullman.”
Bill played college football at WSU and was an all-conference lineman in 1972.
“He’s the reason I play football, it’s what I wanted to do because I looked up to him,” Bo said. “He always was in college football so I never grew up wanting to be in the NFL. I wanted to be a college football player, so technically I’m living the dream.”
Up until the game is over Saturday, there won’t be much love shared between the two though.
“We talk trash back and forth,” Bo said. “We have some interesting things to say. He hasn’t lost his competitiveness”
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