The Arizona Sun Devils led by as much as 30 points in their 40-24 win over Oregon State before a crowd of 36,063 frozen in Corvallis’ 39-degree fog on Saturday.
Here are our greatest takeaways:
The Sun Devils, like 75 percent of the Pac-12, are going bowling
Whew, the wait is over. ASU waited six weeks after a 5-1 start in 2016 to have its bowl chances crushed in a loss to Arizona. This season, the Sun Devils go into the Territorial Cup with more to prove. A win sets them above the Wildcats in the standings and a chance at a higher-quality bowl game. Right now, the Sun Devils are projected by SB Nation’s Jason Kirk to be in the Independence Bowl (Shreveport, Louisiana) against Southern Mississippi. Because of the overflow of Pac-12 schools in the postseason, ASU might need another win to stay relatively close to Tempe in a Pac-12 bowl game. Kirk predicts Utah in the Cactus Bowl and Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl. An ASU win over Arizona may leapfrog the Sun Devils into either of those contests.
Somehow, the Sun Devils let OSU back in
ASU fans may have been shouting at their television sets, calling for Blake Barnett, but the lead was never enough to put him in. The Sun Devils were up 40-10 two and a half minutes into the fourth quarter before Oregon State scored twice in the matter of six minutes, nearly cutting Arizona State’s lead in half. Had Oregon State quarterback Darrell Garretson not fumbled at the ASU 15-yard line, the Beavers could have been down by just a score and a 2-point conversion with two and a half minutes to go. The Sun Devils may have completely outplayed the Beavers, but it wasn’t a blowout. ASU ranks No. 7 in the nation, letting up an average of four penalties per game. The Sun Devils had seven penalties for 71 yards on Saturday with four of them being pass interference.
ASU may have shifted its gears: run first
UCLA’s rush defense ranks last in the Pac-12, giving up 288.7 ground yards per game. The Sun Devils rushed for 294 yards against the Bruins. Oregon State, who gives up an average of 228.9 per game ranks second-to-last. On Saturday, ASU rushed for 286. Demario Richard (119) and Kalen Ballage (103) each had 100-yard games for the first time all season and the first time since ASU beat Texas Tech 68-55 in week two of the 2016 season. Going into the season with two senior backs, fans may have planned to watch an attack fixed to run the ball. Also, many didn’t see Manny Wilkins’ 14-touchdown, four-interception season in their future. With Richard now healthy and a much-improved offensive line, the Sun Devils may have to run first against an Arizona team who gives up an average of 183.6 yards per game.