Jeff Vinton

Preview: Oregon State Beavers 6-3 (4-2 Pac-12)

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Key Wins: Utah 4-5 (1-5 Pac-12), Washington State 4-5 (2-4 Pac-12), Cal 1-9 (1-6 Pac-12)

Key Losses: Stanford 8-1 (6-1 Pac-12), USC (4-2 Pac-12), Eastern Washington [FCS] 8-2 (6-0 Big Sky)

NFL Draft Prospects: WR Brandin Cooks, DE Scott Crichton, CB Rashaad Reynolds, CB Sean Martin, OT Michael Philipp, OG Grant Enger, OLB Michael Doctor, QB Sean Mannion, WR Kevin Cummings

For the first time this season, the Sun Devils won while ranked. ASU, who came into Saturday’s game vs. Utah ranked No. 22, had previously lost to Stanford while ranked No. 23 and to Notre Dame when ranked No.22. But this time, the script flipped and ASU went into an extremely tough environment at Rice-Eccles Stadium and beat Utah, 20-19.

Saturday’s game began very well for the Sun Devils, as they marched down the field in 3:25 after receiving the opening kickoff, and took a 7-0 lead early on a Taylor Kelly rushing touchdown. It would be a very long time before things would look up again for ASU. The Sun Devils next nine drives, which lasted until the end of the third quarter, resulted in seven punts and a lost fumble (the missing drive was a one-play drive to end the half). While the Sun Devils were sputtering, Utah took a 19-7 lead, thanks to two Travis Wilson touchdown passes and two Andy Phillips field goals. It looked as if the Utes had a strong hold on the lead when the fourth quarter began, but then ASU’s offense came alive. On the first drive of the fourth, Kelly added another rushing score to his resume, this one a two-yarder, and then, with 2:37 remaining, Kelly hit oft-maligned wide receiver Richard Smith, who broke a tackle and scored to tie the game. Zane Gonzalez hit the extra point to give the Sun Devils the 20-19 victory.

The victory over the Utes propelled the Sun Devils to the No. 19 spot in the BCS rankings, and next, ASU will play at home for the first time since a 53-24 victory over the then-No. 20 Washington Huskies on Oct. 19, as they welcome the Oregon State Beavers to Sun Devil Stadium at 7:30 p.m. MST on the Pac-12 Networks.

The Beavers began the season ranked No. 25 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches’ polls and had high expectations for this season after finishing 9-4 in an In-n-Out Burger-fueled 2012 season. They opened the season against FCS-power Eastern Washington, but the season did not open as planned, as the Eagles upset Oregon State 49-46.

OSU responded as well as anyone could have expected, as the next week, the Beavers welcomed Hawaii to Reeser Stadium in Corvallis, Ore., and dispatched the Warriors, 33-14. That would be the first of six wins in a row for OSU.

The Beavers traveled to Salt Lake City the next week to open their 2013 Pac-12 schedule and play the Utah Utes, and in a highly competitive game, the Beavers beat Utah, 51-48 in OT.

The next week, Oregon State traveled down the west coast and out of conference to play the San Diego State Aztecs. It was yet another close game for OSU, but the Beavers pulled out a 34-30 victory over the Aztecs.

The Beavers then reentered their Pac-12 schedule, as the Colorado Buffaloes traveled to Corvallis to take on OSU. OSU would not let a supposed inferior opponent catch them sleeping twice in one season, as the Beavers defeated the Buffs 44-17.

Pac-12 north rival Washington State came next for OSU, as the Beavers took a trip up to Pullman. The Beavers extended their winning streak to five games, as they defeated the Cougars 52-24.

Oregon State played the Cal Golden Bears next and the game was never very close. OSU beat Cal 49-17. This win brought the Beavers back in to the top 25, and the Beavers went into their matchup against Stanford ranked No. 25.

The Beavers, who were riding a huge wave of momentum, welcomed Stanford to Reeser Stadium, but were unable to extend their winning streak to seven games, as the Cardinal defeated OSU 20-12.

Two weeks ago, USC took a trip up north to Corvallis, a place that has plagued them in recent years. Coming into the game, the Trojans had not won in Corvallis since 2004. USC, who has been playing much better since their 62-41 defeat in Tempe that led to head coach Lane Kiffin getting fired at LAX after the USC landed, defeated the Beavers 31-14.

The Beavers had a bye week last week, and now will travel south to play the No. 19 Arizona State Sun Devils.

Oregon State has been a fairly solid team all season, and has the third best passing offense in the nation (3643 yards, 404.8 yards per game), according to ESPN. They also have the top receiver in the country in Brandin Cooks, who has 91 catches for 1344 yards and 14 touchdowns on the season. Stopping the Beavers pass offense will be a tough task for ASU’s 14th-ranked defense. ASU’s defense will have a break when it comes to the run game, as the Beavers have only rushed for 625 yards and their top rusher, Terron Ward, only has 277 yards this season. Oregon State has also been a good road team this season. All three of the Beavers’ losses have come at home, and they, like the Sun Devils, picked up a tough victory at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The Beavers’ defense has also been fairly solid this season. They have given up 393.2 yards per game, but have held opponents to only 27.8 points per game.

I just see the Sun Devil offense being too much for the Beavers to handle. Taylor Kelly, Marion Grice and the rest of ASU’s offense have been very hot lately, outside of the Utah game. They have put up more than 50 points in three of their last four games, and have averaged 491.75 yards per game in those games. ASU has also been an amazing team when they play at Sun Devil Stadium this season. This may be a high-scoring shootout in the desert, but look for ASU to win their fifth-straight game.

Prediction: ASU 53, OSU 35

About Jeff Vinton

Jeff Vinton is a sophomore journalism and mass communication major at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He was born and raised in Fort Collins, CO and graduated in 2012 from Fort Collins High School.

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