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Behind Enemy Lines: Q&A w/ House of Sparky

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Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

To get ready for the big game between the Devils and the Utes, House of Sparky's Ryan Bafaloukos was kind enough to give us a little insight.

ASU started pretty slow this season, how would you explain that?

RB: The main issues for Arizona State early in the season stemmed from a stagnant offense. Early on, it looked like quarterback Mike Bercovici was not a good fit for this offense and the offensive line was overwhelmed against the likes of Texas A&M and USC. I think at the base of it, the Sun Devils played two really good teams (USC at the time) and they were overmatched. The turning point of the season came against UCLA, with a gutsy road victory that may have saved the season.

ASU is one of two teams Utah has yet to beat since joining the conference (Washington), how does ASU and ASU fans view Utah?

RB: I think ASU fans really respect Utah. They know that the Utes are not to be taken lightly anymore and they are educated enough to know that Utah is the best team in the conference right now. ASU fans know the Sun Devils are in for a dogfight, but I still think most of them believe the Sun Devils can come away with a win on Saturday night.

ASU has traditionally had a rather dynamic offense, especially with Taylor Kelly, and they've always had a lot of playmakers, what names do Utah fans need to watch out for on offense?

RB: The player who has emerged above the rest on offense has been wide receiver Tim White. The redshirt junior caught two touchdowns and tallied over 140 receiving yards last week against Colorado and he has proven to be ASU's big-play wide receiver this year. A few more names to keep an eye on are Kalen Ballage, Devin Lucien and Gary Chambers.

Where should Utah attack ASU's defense, if you were calling a game against the Devils?

RB: The two teams that have had the most success against ASU - Texas A&M and USC - both attacked ASU in space and on the perimeter. ASU has held every running back they have faced this season below their season average in rushing yards. Where the Sun Devils have gotten beat this year has been when teams get them one-on-one in the secondary and their playmakers make moves in space.

Has Mike Bercovici performed up to fans' expectations this year? It appears that he came down to earth a bit to open the season, after his blistering run last year.

RB: There is no doubt that Bercovici struggled to start the year, but a lot of it was not his fault. The offensive line surrendered nine sacks against Texas A&M, running back Kalen Ballage missed some time earlier this year with mono and the ASU receivers struggled. The last two games, Bercovici has looked much more comfortable with the offense, both with his legs and his arm. He tied a career high with five touchdown passes last week against Colorado,

What are the keys for ASU to get the win in SLC?

RB: I think the key will be exiting the first quarter with a lead. Utah has outscored teams 36-16 in the first quarter this season and the Utes really aren't built to play from behind. If ASU can build a lead and take it into the second half, the Sun Devils can control the pace of the game. Obviously, turnovers will be huge and for ASU defensively they have to limit the big plays from Utah's offense.

What's your prediction for this game?

RB: I respect the heck out of Utah and there is no doubt the Utes have been the best team in the league this year. That said, I think ASU pulls out a wild game. This is more of a gut feeling than anything. I think it will be close, but I say ASU pulls this one out 27-24 in OT.

Check out Ryan's work over at House of Sparky.