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First look at the Arizona State Sun Devils

It’s Thanksgiving weekend once again

<span data-author="5158751">arizona-state-sun-devils-college-football-arizona-wildcats-first-look </span> Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats return to Tucson for their final home game of the season. After Saturday’s embarrassing loss to Washington State in Pullman, Arizona (5-6, 4-4 Pac-12) looks to re-capture bowl eligibility and the Territorial Cup when its hosts the Arizona State Sun Devils.

Saturday’s kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. MT and will be televised on FS1.

First Look at Arizona State (6-5, 4-4)

Key Games:

  • Week 2 win vs. Michigan State (16-13)
  • Week 4 loss at Washington (27-20)
  • Week 6 loss at Colorado (28-21)
  • Week 10 win vs. Utah (38-20)
  • Week 12 loss at Oregon (31-29)

Key Offensive Players: Manny Wilkins (QB), Eno Benjamin (RB), N’Keal Harry (WR), Cohl Cabral (C)

Key Defensive Players: Jermayne Lole (DL), Merlin Robertson (LB), Chase Lucas (CB), Jalen Harvey (S)

Series History: Arizona leads 49-41-1

Last Season’s Meeting: ASU 42, Arizona 30

Series note: The home team has won the last five meetings.

The Sun Devils have had a very interesting season. They will enter Saturday’s game with five losses but none have been by a margin greater than seven points. In fact, eight of their 11 games played to date have been decided by seven points or less. Their record is 3-5 in those games.

This time last week they controlled their destiny to represent the South in the Pac-12 title game. All of that changed with their loss at Oregon and Utah’s win at Colorado, giving the Utes the division.

The point is Herm Edwards has not had as disappointing of a season as predicted by many. Despite sitting one game above .500, ASU has been one of the more exciting teams in the conference.

Senior quarterback Manny Wilkins is having a very efficient season. He is completing 63.4 percent of his passes for 2,631 yards with a 18:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He has also run for 359 yards and seven touchdowns.

There isn’t much depth for skill position players but they have two of the best in the Pac-12. Running back Eno Benjamin has recorded a combined 1,658 rushing and receiving yards and has found the end zone 14 times. He ranks third in the country in rushing yards with 1,444.

Wide Receiver N’Keal Harry has recorded his second straight 1,000-yard season and is easily the best professional prospect on the team. He is responsible for 39 percent of ASU’s receiving yards.

The offensive line is very likely the most valuable unit of the offense. They have allowed only 15 sacks through 11 games and has also blocked for one of the nation’s top rushers. Versatile lineman Cole Cabral has done a tremendous job in moving to center and leading the unit.

On the defensive side of the ball, there are a handful of freshmen who are making big impacts. Namely linebacker Meril Robertson, who is a key piece to a defense that has allowed 156.3 rushing yards per game.

ASU’s pass defense allows, on average, 234.7 yards per game. Corner back Chase Lucas is a true lock-down defender and is easily the most talented against the pass.

Converted Safety Jalen Harvey missed last weekend’s game in Eugene but will be another name to familiarize yourself with if he plays. He has recorded 70 total tackles on the season and is another big contributor to their rushing defense.

The big question is not whether Manny Wilkins finally wear his mouth piece properly? Obviously that will never happen.

The big question is, of course, can the Wildcats shake their performance against Washington State? A decent portion of Saturday’s outcome against Washington State were self-inflicted mistakes. However, the bottom line is they were simply over matched.

That will not be the case on Saturday when ASU comes to Tucson.