Cougars, Sun Devils hope to bounce back from last-second losses

How is Washington State Mike Leach going to guard against play-call stealing? How angry will both of these teams be? Can Wazzu become bowl-eligible this weekend? Will Arizona State avoid a three-game losing streak?

What to watch for Saturday afternoon when Arizona State travels to Washington State.

1. The anger factor: Both of these teams are pretty salty considering how they lost last weekend. Washington State had fought tooth and nail to hold off Stanford and missed a potential game-winning field goal. Arizona State lost in triple overtime to Oregon. Now, that anger is going to play out as both of these teams fight to get that taste out of their mouths. It could create a sloppy game if the players get overly emotional, but with bowl eligibility on the line for Wazzu and a three-game losing streak on the line for the Sun Devils, we’re guessing both of these teams are going to turn that anger into focus and come out ready to play.

2. Boom-or-bust Arizona State defense: The big plays will be there for Washington State quarterback Luke Falk and his receivers. The Sun Devils have given up 260 passing yards per game this season (that’s sometimes what Falk accumulates in two quarters) and they’ve only picked off opposing quarterbacks seven times. But the Sun Devils do have a conference-best 29 sacks this season. If the Sun Devils can keep Falk in check by throwing the kitchen sink at him and not allow too many big plays, they’ll have a chance to get themselves off the field. But if Falk can get the ball out fast and his playmakers can take advantage of the opportunities that a loaded box affords receivers, Falk and his offense will be able to put up points.

3. Play-calling drama: You know it’s getting weird in the Pac-12 when the biggest discussion of the week was about some bed sheets that Oregon employed in its play calling against Arizona State and whether or not play-call stealing is illegal or not. Earlier this week, Leach said that he thinks Arizona State should be investigated for sign-stealing. To which Arizona State coach Todd Graham essentially said, “Yep, we steal signs, you steal signs, everyone steals signs.” So, will Washington State bust out some bed sheets? Will they do something even crazier? We hope so. It is the pirate, after all, that we’re talking about.

4. All the passing touchdowns you could want: It could be a big night for receivers on both teams. Washington State's Air Raid, unsurprisingly, accounts for the most passing touchdowns in the Pac-12 (28) while the Sun Devils have the fourth-most (19). Both teams are able to spread it around quite a bit -- six players have caught touchdown passes for ASU and eight players have caught touchdown passes for Wazzu. Falk and Mike Bercovici both have chips on their shoulders after last weekend, so expect big games out of those two.

5. What does the Sun Devils’ run game look like? Considering it had been a month since Arizona State had even had a single 100-yard rusher, the fact that they had two against Oregon was a bit surprising. Against the Ducks, Demario Richard rushed for 135 yards while Kalen Ballage tacked on another 127 for the Sun Devils. Arizona State’s run game hadn’t been that explosive in a while, so it will be interesting to see what Arizona State offensive coordinator Mike Norvell has in store for the Cougars. Washington State has the second-worst rush defense in the conference, allowing 207 rushing yards a game. After such a dry spell, could this be the second weekend in a row the Sun Devils have two 100-yard rushers? It’s very possible.