LOS ANGELES (AP) — Herm Edwards has wondered all season how Arizona State would respond to adversity. He finds out on Saturday when his No. 24 Sun Devils play at UCLA.
Arizona State is coming off a 24-3 loss at No. 12 Utah last week when it struggled on offense.
"I think we learned some lessons, the team understood it and we did not harp on it very long at all," the coach said. "They felt it, they were disappointed, but we're not discouraged and they understood that we put ourselves in this position. Now how do we continue to win more games and put ourselves in position down the road, that is what you hope for and that is part of building a program."
The Sun Devils are 5-2 and UCLA is 2-5, with both 2-2 in Pac-12 play. The Sun Devils are trying to defeat the Bruins for the fourth time in five years.
These are inexperienced teams. UCLA has the second-largest percentage of freshman on its roster while Arizona State is fourth.
Freshman Jayden Daniels is looking to bounce back after going 4 of 18 for 25 yards while being under pressure all day. Edwards said he has had a good week of talks with his quarterback and that he expects him to be ready.
"He has had all these games where he has come back and he's done all things and now he is Superman," Edwards said. "No, he is a freshman quarterback and he gets to be a freshman quarterback, that is OK."
UCLA is coming in after playing one of its best games in Chip Kelly's two years as coach — a 34-16 victory over Stanford.
Sophomore quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson has thrown eight touchdowns against three interceptions while rushing for 50 yards or more over the past three games.
Kelly, though, is not one to believe in momentum after big wins.
"We have to take care of the task at hand and focus on that. The better we can stay in the moment the better we will be," he said.
SOUTH DIVISION CHAOS? While it appears Oregon has taken control of the Pac-12 North, the South is far from settled. The division contenders will face each other the second half of the season.
Utah and Southern California are tied for the division lead at 3-1 with Arizona State, Arizona and UCLA all a game back at 2-2. The Bruins still face Utah and USC while the Sun Devils have USC and Arizona remaining on their schedule.
BATTLE OF THE BACKS: The game features two of the conference's top running backs. UCLA's Joshua Kelley is second, averaging 95.2 yards a game and Arizona State's Emo Benjamin is fourth at 90.4.
Kelley has rounded into form after a knee injury early in the season. The senior is averaging 125.7 yards during his past three games and had a season-best 176 last week against Stanford.
Benjamin has three straight 100-yard games. The junior is also among the more elusive backs with 42 missed tackles, which is tied for 11th nationally among running backs.
LEARNING TO ADJUST: UCLA has scored on four of its seven opening drives this season but hasn't been as effective the rest of the game. That changed against Stanford when the Bruins scored on their first two possessions and kept the pressure going from there.
On the other side of the ball, Arizona State has not scored on its initial possession since its opener against Kent State.
IN THE TRENCHES: The Bruins had a season-high seven sacks against Stanford and will be looking to keep the pressure up against an Arizona State offensive line that is allowing an average of 2.7 sacks a game, the third highest in the conference.
Edwards said he likely will stick with a seven-player rotation, with four of them freshmen.
KEEP AN EYE ON: UCLA WR Kyle Phillip. The freshman has emerged as the Bruins top receiver the past three games with 23 receptions and three touchdowns. He had 10 catches for 100 yards and two of touchdowns in the victory at Stanford, winning Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors.