We're a day away from another big game for the Arizona State Sun Devils. This one, however, has less to do with what the Sun Devils do, and more to do with what everyone else does.
As long as Arizona State takes care of business against Oregon State, the final score shouldn't matter too much. Arizona State will move into at least fifth in the playoff rankings.
Here are the five keys to get them in that position:
1. Avoid the let down: When the most important games in your world don't actually involve your world, it's difficult to focus sometimes. Arizona State is better at every single position across the board than the Beavers. On paper, this game should be an easy two- to three-score victory for the Sun Devils. But Arizona State can't get caught scoreboard watching. This game should be about making a statement, not playing down to your opponent.
2. Stop Storm Woods: Woods has missed two of the last three Beavers games with injuries, but everything points towards the star running back suiting up tomorrow. He's versatile back who can make plays with his agility and power, but whom also catches the ball well. Woods will no doubt continue to split carries with Terron Ward, but make no mistake about it: Woods is the man. He's averaging over six yards per carry and could be the conference's third-best back, behind Buck Allen and D.J. Foster.
3. Just feed 21: Jaelen Strong gets better every week. That's actually hard to believe, but his remarkable touchdown catch against Notre Dame should have put America on notice, if they hadn't already received the memo. The kid is fantastic, and as long as he's running routes, you could put Stevie Wonder at quarterback for the Sun Devils and he would look amazing.
4. Stay Healthy: A year ago the Sun Devils started to lose players to injury at this juncture in the season. Todd Graham and his coaching staff did a wonderful job of holding the fort together until the Pac-12 championship game, but then the wheels fell off, along with everything else that can fall off. It can't be emphasized enough how important it is to keep players like Strong, Foster, Taylor Kelly, Salamo Fiso and the entire secondary healthy.
5. Continue developing the secondary: Jordan Simone and Damarious Randall have evolved into a feared safety pairing in the defensive backfield. Lloyd Carrington has played well as the primary corner all year, and the Sun Devils have put a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks because nobody is ever open. This was another glaring hole at the end of last season, when Stanford receivers ran like Forrest Gump down the seem, and Texas Tech looked like...well...Texas Tech. But this secondary has a swagger, a giant chip on its shoulder. And they're the real deal.