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Arizona-Arizona State: Prediction

Gino Crump exalts in last season’s win at Arizona State. Photo by Pat Shannahan/The Arizona Republic

I thought at the beginning of the season that the Arizona-Arizona State game would be a toss-up.

Nothing has changed my mind.

You’d rather have Arizona senior Matt Scott at quarterback than ASU sophomore Taylor Kelly, but it’s not as if Kelly and the Sun Devils offense have been bad. Here’s one thing to watch: Kelly has thrown nine interceptions in ASU’s five losses. He has not been intercepted in the team’s six victories.

Yeah, but can Scott operate effectively against an ASU defense that leads the nation in sacks with 4.3 per game and is second in tackles for loss at 8.9 per game?

On the other hand, can the Sun Devils — who have allowed more than 200 rushing yards in four games this season — stop Ka’Deem Carey, the nation’s hottest running back?

Meanwhile, the Wildcats’ defense continues to just hang on, with its hope being that it can just make a few key plays at key times.

Got a coin? Flip it.

“It’s a rivalry game. Anything and everything has happened in this rivalry,” said Arizona senior center Kyle Quinn.

“We’ve got to be ready for anything. Don’t worry about what can happen, just control what we can and just go out and play fast.”

The past three meetings have been decided on the final play, and neither program appears to have much separated from the other this season, so why not another down-to-wire finish with the game hanging on a late play or two?

But we’re here to pick a winner and a loser, and the edge, based on the body of work through 11 games, goes to Arizona. The Wildcats have played the tougher schedule and taken down better teams.

Arizona (7-4 overall, 4-4 Pac-12) has defeated four FBS teams with winning records — Toledo, Oklahoma State, Washington and USC.

Arizona State, which played the easier conference schedule (Washington State and Cal instead of Stanford and Washington from the North Division), has no victories over FBS teams with winning records. The Sun Devils are 6-5 and 4-4.

Everyone can be pretty sure the teams tonight will make a run at the most points ever scored in the rivalry — 92, set in 1998. As for the winner:

Arizona 41, Arizona State 38.

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