Coming into 2012, ASU and Oregon State were both projected to have terrible years, but nine weeks in, the two underdogs still posses legitimate Pac-12 conference championship aspirations. While the Sun Devils are surprising at 5-3, Mike Riley's 11th ranked Beavers 6-1 start is basically mind-blowing.
Heading into Corvallis, Oregon always seems to provide ASU with challenges, resulting in a 1-4 record during their previous five trips. Both teams are also looking to bounce back after disappointing losses.
However, the personnel of each team is extremely unalike. ASU should be considered an offensive team and OSU prides themselves on a lockdown defense. This should be a nice old school match-up of two contrasting styles.
Interestingly enough, the Beavers have elected to sit down incumbent starting quarterback Sean Mannion in favor of Cody Vaz. In Vaz's two opportunities from the opening snap, he posted 506 total yards and three touchdowns. Under his command, OSU's offense scored a season high 42 points against BYU.
Sun Devils fans should be worried about this tough contest, and some have already jumped ship. If ASU can somehow stun the national ESPN audience, Tempe will be wild on Saturday night. Coach Graham and his players knows this game is basically a must win situation to stay alive.
Listed below are my famous three keys in order for ASU to bring home the W.
1. Establish a Consistent Rushing Attack
ASU's best defense may be their offense. Cameron Marshall continues to struggle yet the emergence of Marion Grice and D.J. Foster has made up for it.
The talented trio, plus assistance from quarterback Taylor Kelly, averages 192.4 yards per game. The previous clip has lead ASU to the fourth-best rushing attack in conference
Beyond YPC, fumbles will not be tolerated. ASU is good enough to win but can't afford making unnecessary mistakes. Lately the Sun Devil tailbacks have begun to solve any ball security issues.
Another beneficial aspect to running the rock is maintaining long drives, which is always key when on the road. Fans get deflated, inpatient and quiet after long draining drives. ASU's backfield is certainly talented enough to fulfill my wishes.
Playing physical and tough football is easier said than done. OSU boasts one of the five best defenses predicated on stop the run. The Sun Devils and offensive coordinator Mike Norvell might not succeed on the ground, but need to try try try again.
2. Provide Complex Defensive Schemes
Since day one of the defensive coordinator Paul Randolph's time at ASU, he has promised heavy blitzing and odd fronts. Randolph is definitely somebody to trust, proving to be a hybrid type D.
On numerous occasions against UCLA, Randolph used no down lineman. His tactics don't always work, but when they do, it's turnover city.
OSU quarterback Cody Vaz could be the real deal talent wise, yet inexperience could lead to his demise. There is no way to simulate playing at live game action.
So beyond the arm strength, ability to throw on the run and other aspects, confusing him could be feasible. In addition, ASU star defensive BEAST Will Sutton is expected back. Sutton's effectiveness is unknown, but his presence alone could rattle Vaz.
We all have seen Randolph dial up some crazy calls, and it wont be any different come kick off this weekend. The main reason being, Vaz doesn't have sufficient experience under his belt.
3. ASU Kicker Jon Mora
Two seconds left, the clock is running out, Jon Mora has a 38 yarder from the left hash for the win. Can he hit it? That scenario is totally made up, but could become a reality instantly.
It's very doubtful that ASU can dominate OSU, especially away from Sun Devil Stadium. Put two and two together and I smell a close ball game.
Walk-on kicker Jon Mora looked sharp last week going 3 for 3, and after looking into my fortune eight ball, I see the game residing on his right boot.
Although, the performance was impressive, I haven't bought into the Mora hype. I doubt Mora is reading this article, but I double dare him to prove me wrong.
Final Prediction: OSU over ASU 24-20