Ritter’s Rules

Mike Ritter


The personalities of the two quarterbacks couldn’t be more different. By the numbers, however, it’s pretty close. ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter is the king of smack talk. He’s the loud, wild signal caller who razzes everyone on the field. That’s a stark contrast to Arizona’s Willie Tuitama, who leads by example. He has about 650 more yards and four more touchdown passes on the year, but that’s also on 147 more pass attempts.

Advantage: ASU

Running backs

Arizona’s running game currently ranks last in the Pacific 10 Conference. It’s not entirely Nicolas Grigsby’s fault – it’s a pass-heavy offense. ASU has been without Ryan Torain for about half the season, but Keegan Herring has filled in with ease with 780 yards.

Advantage: ASU

Wide Receivers

It always goes back to the spread offense. The advantage would go to ASU, but its leading receiver, Chris McGaha, only has 46 catches and no touchdowns. In just as many games, Arizona’s Mike Thomas has 73 catches for 929 yards and 11 touchdowns, tied for the most in school history. His 74 points are the most for a Wildcat position player since running back Kelvin Eafon in 1998.

Advantage: Arizona

Offensive Line

This one is about as easy as it gets. Carpenter has been sacked 49 times on the season, by far the most in the Pac-10 and near the highest total in the country. Tuitama has been sacked 27 times on far, far more pass attempts. Ever heard the saying: You’re only as good as your offensive line?

Advantage: Arizona

Defensive Line

Lionel Dotson, who leads the Wildcats in sacks with 6.5, certainly knows about the Sun Devils’ sack total. A key component of the game will be Arizona’s pass rush, and that starts with Dotson. However, ASU stops the run with ease, only allowing 106.1 rushing yards per game.

Advantage: ASU


Spencer Larsen has already cemented himself as the best linebacker in the Pac-10. With 116 tackles, he leads the conference by a slim margin. He will continue to cement that NFL resume Saturday in his hometown.

Advantage: Arizona


Antoine Cason is ticked. He hates ASU. He said in July he might not have even come back had the Wildcats beaten the Sun Devils in the season finale last year. But he came back, and he’s hoping this isn’t his final game in a college uniform. Look for Cason to try to validate his candidacy for the Jim Thorpe Award.

Advantage: Arizona

Special Teams

Also look for Cason to try to validate himself as being an elite punt returner to make his NFL Draft stock rise higher and higher. UA kicker Jason Bondzio has been lights out for the majority of the year, nailing 20-of-24 field goals on the year. Sun Devil kicker Thomas Weber has hit 20-of-21 and kick returner Rudy Burgess has been solid, averaging 24 yards per return and even had a 98-yard score.

Advantage: Even