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ASU football returns home Saturday as the team takes on No.12 UCLA

The Sun Devils take on their fifth ranked opponent after an improved offensive performance for family weekend against the Bruins

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Interim head coach Sean Aguano locks arms with the Sun Devil football team before Arizona State’s game against the Washington Huskies at Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. ASU won 45-38.

After ASU football had one of its best offensive performances this season with a 42-34 win over Colorado, the team will host No. 12 UCLA on Saturday for family weekend.

Redshirt junior quarterback Trenton Bourguet got the start last Saturday and took advantage of his opportunity, setting the record for most passing yards in a first-career start with 435. 

Redshirt sophomore tight end Jalin Conyers also had a breakout performance, becoming the first tight end in ASU history to score three touchdowns in a single game. Graduate student running back Xazavian Valladay reached the 4,000-yard career rushing threshold with 118 yards and three touchdowns.

"It was a fun game," said interim coach Shaun Aguano. "The kids bought in and trusted the changes that I made. I'm grateful for that."

UCLA head coach Chip Kelly has led the Bruins to seven wins with the only loss against No. 8 Oregon. Kelly had lots of praise for Bourguet earlier this week, saying he is impressive to watch on film and quick to get the ball out.

"(ASU's offense) played with great timing last weekend," Kelly said during a post-practice media availability on Nov. 2. "That's something we have to be conscious of. We have to disrupt the timing of the routes and generate the pass rush."

The Bruins have been spectacular this season and are No. 9 in the nation in yards per game with 500.6 compared to ASU's 379. Their offense is led by redshirt senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and senior running back Zach Charbonnet.

The fifth-year quarterback ranks fifth nationally with a 72.3% completion rate. He is only seventh in the Pac-12 in passing yards with 1,971, but is second among quarterbacks in rushing with 319 rushing yards.

Charbonnet is having a career year for the Bruins, leading the Pac-12 in rushing yards by more than 200 with 964 yards. He is tied with Valladay and Washington's sophomore running back Cameron Davis for the second most rushing touchdowns with 10. This dual-rushing attack has UCLA rushing 222.4 yards a game, second in the Pac-12.

"You gotta pick your poison," said ASU's defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson. "(Charbonnet) is quick, has a great change of direction, and is powerful. (Thompson-Robinson) is also always dangerous when he got his hands on the ball."

READ MORE: Quarterback Trenton Bourguet's hot start outshining strong defensive performances

On the other side of the ball, the Bruins boast one of the finest defensive cores in the conference. They rank third in the Pac-12 in yards allowed per game, only allowing 360.5 yards a game. ASU's defense allows 401 yards in comparison. 

UCLA redshirt junior linebacker Laiatu Latu has terrorized opposing quarterbacks all year, tallying up 7.5 sacks which ranks first in the Pac-12 and tied for fifth in the FBS.

"They're a solid defense and have had a great year so far," Bourguet said. "They're going to make us focus on the details and break down the film, but hopefully, with the game plan we have, we can execute at a high level and come out victorious."

However, the ASU offense showed they're more than ready last weekend against the Buffaloes, racking up 557 yards on offense. While Bourguet and Conyers were the standouts, redshirt sophomore wide receiver Elijhah Badger quietly had 137 receiving yards.

Last week was Badger's second straight game with over 100 yards receiving, solidifying his role as the top wideout for the Sun Devils.

"I feel like the playcalling was more toward going to everyone this week," Badger said. "Just moving downfield quicker and moving the ball in tempo. It feels good."

ASU will get the late slate on Saturday, kicking off in Tempe at 7:30 p.m. MST. The Sun Devils are the 11-point underdog going into the game.

Edited by Walker Smith, David Rodish and Piper Hansen.

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Vinny DeangelisSports Reporter

Vincent Deangelis is a full-time reporter for the sports department at The State Press. He has previously worked for Arizona PBS and 

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