1 Point: Play occurred in a Sun Devil loss
2 Points: Momentum Changing Play
6 Points: Play resulted in a defensive touchdown
Total: 9 Points
Prior to the season, college football prognosticators pegged the Oregon State Beavers and the Arizona State Sun Devils as middle of the road Pac-12 teams. The Beavers did not return much offensive talent from a team that did not place well in 2011, and the Sun Devils were surrounded by uncertainty as the transition from Dennis Erickson to Todd Graham took place.
When the 2012 schedule was released, almost anyone in the Arizona State program marked the Oregon State game as a must-win game if the Sun Devils were to achieve bowl eligibility in Coach Graham's first season at the helm.
Like the Sun Devils, the Beavers had questions to answer and critics to quiet, but the early part of the season proved that Oregon State could compete on any given night.
In August, the Oregon State and Arizona State matchup looked destined to be a pair of meddling teams searching for a win to pad their record and inch closer to a bowl berth. By November, each team had realistic hopes of winning their respective divisions in the Pac-12.
Though the Sun Devils were coming off a heartbreaking loss at the hands of the UCLA Bruins, they had another chance to regain momentum heading down the home stretch of their schedule against the No. 13 ranked Beavers in Corvallis.
While the Sun Devil defense struggled mightily against UCLA, they played without standout defensive tackle Will Sutton who injured himself in a remarkable defensive effort on the second play of the Oregon game. (Top Play No. 12)
When Arizona State took the field in Corvallis, Sutton was recovered and ready to make a statement.
Sutton has a penchant for big plays, and despite nursing an injury, the start of the Oregon State game was no different for the Sun Devil stopgap.
As the game began, the Beavers received the ball first and started their opening drive from their own 16-yard line.
Subbing for an injured Sean Mannion, Oregon State quarterback Cody Vaz proved a valuable backup as he passed for over 1200 yards, 11 touchdowns, and managed to throw just one interception this season.
The Beavers' coaching staff had confidence in Vaz, and opened up the Arizona State game with two consecutive passing plays. Twice, the Beavers were denied as the Arizona State secondary held stout in the early going.
On third down and 10 from their own 16-yard line, the Beavers were practically forced to go to the air if they wanted to avoid a three-and-out.
Vaz aligned with an empty backfield and five receivers spread out in formation. The Beavers set two receivers to the left, split another to the right, and placed slot backs a yard outside the two tackles.
The slot back on the left stayed in for extra protection, and the Beavers actually outmanned the Sun Devils 6-5 on the line of scrimmage, but Oregon State made the critical mistake of leaving Will Sutton one-on-one with the left guard.
At the snap of the ball, Sutton ripped left and dashed straight by his man en route to a startled Cody Vaz. As Vaz cocked his arm to throw, the football slipped out of his grasp an instant before Sutton leveled him the to the ground.
Will Sutton delivered a devastating blow, and effectively wiped out the only Beaver who had a remote chance at recovering the fumble in Vaz.
While Sutton was busy annihilating another opposing quarterback, pass rusher Junior Onyeali happened upon the gift of a football practically falling into his hands after his speed rush took him deep and wide behind the Oregon State quarterback.
Onyeali pounced on the football, and took one step into the end zone for the Sun Devil touchdown. Just 20 seconds into the Oregon State game, Onyeali's touchdown announced the Sun Devils were back and ready to compete with a ranked opponent.
For the second time in three weeks, Will Sutton helped force a turnover that led to an immediate Sun Devil touchdown. Though the defensive tackle was not completely healthy, one glance at Sutton's pummeling of Cody Vaz tells you all you need to know about his impact this season.
Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, the defense racked up the majority of the points in their effort against the Beavers as Kevin Ayers' blocked punt later in the game led to another defensive score.
While the Sun Devils could not match the Beavers offensive prowess in the loss, Sutton's devastating hit on Cody Vaz and Junior Onyeali's subsequent score provides a memorable highlight for all Arizona State fans to enjoy
Stay tuned as tomorrow, House of Sparky unveils Play No. 8 on our "12 Plays of Christmas" countdown.
For a complete breakdown of our "12 Plays of Christmas" criteria, check out our preview article