Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 11/11/11
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Of Arizona States six games in Pullman, Wash., since the turn of the millennium, the Sun Devils have won four and lost two. Three of the four wins were by three points; the other by 13. If youre expecting an easy bounceback game after last Saturdays eviscerating, 29-28 loss at UCLA, think again. The Sun Devils are 1-3 on the road this season, they play historically close games in The Palouse and the weather forecast is calling for game-time temperatures in the mid-30s with a chance of snow. Last time I checked, football's all about playing in the elements, quarterback Brock Osweiler said. Someone should tell the Cardinals, but we digress. If Saturdays game holds true to form, the Sun Devils waning hopes for a Pac-12 South Division title could come down to making a play late -- maybe even, gulp, getting a last-second field goal from kicker and apparent Bobby Bowden protg Alex Garoutte. Given Dennis Ericksons track record at ASU, that may not be a good thing. Under Erickson, the Devils are 6-12 in games decided by seven points or less and just 3-12 in their last 15. The Sun Devils have lost close road games this season at Illinois (17-14) and UCLA (29-28), getting their lone close win at home over Missouri when Tigers kicker Grant Ressel missed a 48-yard attempt with 17 seconds left in regulation that could have won it. There is no magic formula for winning tight games, said Erickson, who noted that hes won more than hes lost in his storied career. Its about making plays just making plays on both sides of the football, he said. Brock Osweiler takes a similarly simple approach to those pulse-quickening moments. "Just don't tense up, he said. A lot of guys get tense and try to force plays in tight games. That's when you really need to remember: Just play like youve been coached to, play like you always do. Stay loose. Believe in your reads, believe in your progressions, trust in your teammates, the offensive line, and everything will take care of itself. Trust, safety Clint Floyd reiterated, is vital. When it comes down to it, you have to focus and know your assignment, he said. You cant do anybody elses job. As long as youre focused and do your job, everything will be good. Floyd said the Sun Devils can make things a lot easier on themselves if they take the Cougar faithful who brave Saturdays elements out of the game quickly. We have to come out fast, he said. Theyre going to be pretty jacked for this. We have to come prepared. Theres no telling how the Devils will respond to that season-altering loss last week at the Rose Bowl in which they relinquished control of their own destiny -- and their preseason goal of getting back to that very Rose Bowl. Erickson and his staff have done a good job the past two seasons of keeping ASU competitive when others have counted them out. Our guys know what happened and they understand where theyre at, he said before turning his attention to Pullman, where he coached from 1987-88. Thats a difficult place to play. They know theyve got to get focused and do the things to win.
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