While Arizona State athletics have fine-tuned my cynicism, the art of being contemptuous was instilled in me at an early age.
When I was four years old, I told my mother I wanted to be a Ghostbuster. She replied by saying I'd be a mediocre sports writer at best.
She was right. But I still ain't afraid of no ghosts.
Yet this week, I can't think of a single reason why the Sun Devils should be worried. Yes, Oregon State is considerably more talented than both the Cougars and Utes (two teams which the Beavers both hung 50+ points on in earlier season wins). But the Sun Devils are ideally suited to combat each one of Oregon State's strengths.
The Beavers are so one-dimensional they make South Park's animation look like Pixar (cartoon jokes...now we're getting wild!). Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has a better chance at keeping his job than Oregon State does at establishing a run game. With Arizona State's greatest downfall out of the picture, head coach Todd Graham will be allowed to send hordes of pass rushers with little to no consequences.
And let's talk about that Oregon State defense. There's undoubtedly some individual talent there but OSU's most glaring flaw is precisely what makes Arizona State's offense hum: a mobile quarterback. The Beavers allowed Eastern Washington QB Vernon Adams to run wild for 107 yards and two touchdowns opening weekend. Two weeks later, Utah's Travis Wilson did one better, piling up 142 yards and three touchdowns against Oregon State on just 13 attempts.
Stanford's Kevin Hogan would have done the same if head coach David Shaw didn't decide to test them with Tyler Gaffney instead. In Oregon State's first matchup against a quality ball carrier, Gaffney gashed the Beavers for 145 yards and three touchdowns. And most recently, USC's tandem of Silas Redd and Javouris Allen throttled OSU for a combined 273 yards and three touchdowns.
I'd say Marion Grice is as talented as any of those three gentlemen, wouldn't you?
Let's get this straight then: for those keeping score at home, the Beavers have no choice but to allow the Sun Devils to tee off on the led-footed Sean Mannion at will. And once those three-and-outs start racking up, Arizona State should have no problem keeping Oregon State's potent offense off the field by sustaining drives with the read-option. And this game is at Sun Devil Stadium, a venue in which Arizona State hasn't felt the sting of defeat in in over a year.
So you're probably wondering at this point: why am I writing this column at all then?
Because if Arizona State athletics have taught me anything it's that there's a converse relationship between my lack of worrying and the Sun Devils chances of spontaneously combusting. And if a naysayer like me can't see that potential pitfalls, then we might just have the perfect trap game on our hands.
Arizona State is between an emotional rock and a hard place. Fresh of their most visceral win of the Todd Graham era, it's hard not be caught looking ahead to a Pac-12 South deciding visit to the UCLA Bruins the following week. I don't doubt the coaching staff has them as focused as possible but it's human nature for a man's mind to wander when his defining moment is just around the corner.
No, I don't anticipate the Devils going flat like they did against Utah. But in a potential shootout like this, the team that blinks first will likely be the team that walks off heads slumped. And all it takes is one freckle of scatterbrain to miss an opportunity or cough up a turnover. In other words, I'm cynical because I'm not cynical. Aren't I just the worst?