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Arizona State vs. Washington Football Prediction and Preview

Rachaad White, Arizona State Sun Devils Football

Rachaad White and the Sun Devils head to Seattle to take on the embattled Huskies in a crossover Pac-12 matchup

The conference season hits the stretch run and two Pac-12 teams enduring turbulent seasons meet Saturday in Seattle for a potential must-win matchup.

After dropping a pair of ugly league losses to Utah and Washington State, Arizona State (6-3, 4-2 Pac-12) athletics drew criticism for the firing of radio reporter and former Sun Devils safety Jordan Simone. Simone questioned the direction of the program under head coach Herm Edwards during an appearance on the Speak of the Devils podcast.

The 2021 season began with Arizona State facing an NCAA investigation for alleged recruiting violations during the pandemic. Despite the controversy, the Sun Devils were tabbed to win the Pac-12 South.

That goal remains a possibility, but time is running short. ASU needs to win out and hope that Utah loses twice. The Utes' final stretch has cellar-dwellers Arizona and Colorado book-ending a home date with Oregon.

Washington (4-5, 3-3), meanwhile, comes into Saturday's cross-divisional tilt with an interim offensive coordinator and head coach Jimmy Lake serving a one-game suspension. Lake shoved linebacker Ruperake Fuavai in the back away from a sideline altercation during last week's loss to Oregon and hit Fuavai's helmet with a play card.

The makeshift Huskies coaching staff looks to avoid falling two games below .500 and the threat of heading into the final two games of the regular season needing both wins just to reach bowl eligibility.

Arizona State at Washington

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. ET
TV: FS1
Spread: Arizona State -6

When Arizona State Has the Ball

The Sun Devils average 204.3 rushing yards per game and 5.4 yards per carry, but a common denominator in losses to Utah and Washington State was hitting neither benchmark.

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In last week's win over USC, Arizona State got back to attacking effectively on the ground. Rachaad White was especially electric, returning from his absence the week prior against Washington State to roll up 202 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.

Washington's porous defense against the run has been perhaps the most surprising facet of this disappointing season. Opponents are rolling up 195.8 rushing yards per game on the Huskies and approaching five yards per carry.

Oregon pounded Washington for 329 rushing yards, the bulk of which came from Travis Dye. However, dual-threat quarterback Anthony Brown provided an additional pop that Arizona State can replicate with Jayden Daniels.

When Washington Has the Ball

Junior Adams takes over as offensive play-caller with coordinator John Donovan released this week. The interim Adams likely has some leeway in tinkering with the offense some, given how ineffective it's mostly been since Donovan's hire. Adams coached wide receivers the last three seasons, including the final year of Chris Petersen's tenure when Washington passed more effectively than it had in the Donovan era.

How much Washington chooses to pass might be a matter of discretion given the strength of Arizona State's pass defense. The Sun Devils completely shut down USC's version of the Air Raid last week, forcing two interceptions without allowing a touchdown. They lead the Pac-12 with 13 picks.

Final Analysis

Arizona State has been decidedly up-and-down this season but comes to Montlake on an upswing after the strong showing against USC. The uncertainty plaguing Washington and potential hangover of a disappointing conclusion to last week's matchup with rival Oregon puts the Huskies in a precarious position.

Still, a loss on Saturday at home may doom Washington's bowl chances. The Huskies have as much cause for urgency as Arizona State's efforts to stay in contention for the Pac-12 South title.

Prediction: Arizona State 24, Washington 17

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— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Follow him on Twitter @kensing45 and subscribe to his newsletter, The Press Break.