UCLA, Arizona State meet to stay in Pac-12 South race
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) UCLA and Arizona State have had some wild games the past four seasons, including Kalen Ballage's push-the-pile touchdown that secured the Sun Devils' 38-23 victory a year ago.
This year's game, Saturday night at Sun Devil Stadium, will keep one team in the Pac-12 South race and put the other in a deep hole.
''You have to win at home; you better win them all if you want to compete in this league,'' Arizona State coach Todd Graham said. ''We have to figure out a way to beat a very good UCLA team here at home.''
Arizona State's win a year ago at the Rose Bowl ended UCLA's perfect start to the season and sent the Bruins into a bit of a downward spiral.
UCLA is on the upswing heading into this year's game, coming off a 45-24 win over Arizona after losing to Stanford the week before. At 1-1 in the Pac-12, the Bruins (3-2) are a game behind No. 21 Colorado in the South Division.
Arizona State has a better overall record (4-1) and also is 1-1 in conference, but is coming off a 21-point loss to Southern California.
The difference Saturday will likely come down to what UCLA does when it has the ball.
UCLA coach Jim Mora ripped into the Bruins after they labored offensively in the first half against Arizona and the tactic worked. The Bruins ran away from the Wildcats behind quarterback Josh Rosen, who threw for 350 yards and accounted for four touchdowns.
Arizona State continues to have trouble preventing big plays despite a change in defensive approach. The Sun Devils were last in the FBS against the pass last season and are back at the bottom of the pack this year, allowing 396.4 yards per game.
USC freshman Sam Darnold threw for 353 yards and three touchdowns against Arizona State in his first career start last week.
A few more things to look for when the Bruins play the Sun Devils:
WILKINS OUT: Arizona's Manny Wilkins won a tight battle to be Arizona State's starting quarterback and played well through the first four games. The sophomore injured his left leg against USC last week and Graham said on Friday that he will not play against UCLA.
That leaves the Sun Devils in the hands of redshirt freshman Brady White in his first career start. Though not the same running threat Wilkins is, White is a good passer with a nice touch. He hit 6 of 13 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown after Wilkins went down last week.
MILLER'S STATUS: UCLA could be without its starting right tackle against ASU.
Sophomore Kolton Miller injured his left leg in the first half against Arizona last week and was seen around campus wearing a cast and riding a mobility scooter. If Miller can't go, redshirt freshman Andre James will likely get the start in his place.
GONZALEZ EYES ALL-TIME MARK: Arizona State kicker Zane Gonzalez can break the NCAA's all-time field goal record if he makes three on Saturday.
The senior broke the Pac-12 record of 85 last week by making two kicks and is two behind Florida State's Dustin Hopkins, who had 88 from 2009-12. Gonzalez also leads the nation with 31 touchbacks on kickoffs.
NUMBERS: The road team has won the last five games in the series. ... Rosen has not thrown an interception in his last 97 passes. ... Arizona State RB Demario Richard needs 44 yards rushing to become the 19th player in school history to reach 2,000 for his career. ... UCLA is holding opponents to a 48.3 completion percentage on passes, lowest in the Pac-12. ... The Sun Devils have scored on all 21 trips into the red zone this season, one of seven FBS teams to still be perfect.