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ASU Football Opponent Primer: Oregon State Beavers

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The Beavers played spoiler the last time these teams met. Can the Devils exact revenge in Corvallis?

Arizona State v Oregon State Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Arizona State 2017 Schedule

New Mexico State (Aug. 31) — Read

San Diego State (Sept. 9) — Read

At Texas Tech (Sept. 16) — Read

Oregon (Sept. 23) — Read

At Stanford (Sept. 30) — Read

Washington (Oct. 14) — Read

At Utah (Oct. 21) — Read

USC (Oct. 28) — Read

Colorado (Nov. 4) — Read

At UCLA (Nov. 11) — Read

At Oregon State (Nov. 18)

Arizona (Nov. 25)

Oregon State’s 2016 season

In the past decade, one of the most unpredictable, unreliable teams has been the lesser known Oregon-based Pac-12 school, Oregon State. For a program that in 2008 upset the then top-ranked USC Trojans to put its name on the map, the last three seasons have been nothing short of disappointing.

That continued in 2016 as the Beavers went 4-8 (3-6 in Pac-12), but they showed moments of brilliance to only further that reputation of unpredictability. With wins over Idaho State, Cal Arizona and Oregon, the Beavers were really in some games and really not in others. A 47-6 loss to Colorado and a five-point loss to the then-No. 21 Utah Utes is proof of that.

Key Returners

RB Ryan Nall — A team that ran for over 200 more yards than it threw last season is going to be predicated on a running back to take a large part of that work load. Ryan Nall is just that for the Beavers. The Sandy, Oregon native led the team in rushing yards and touchdowns last season with 951 yards and 13 touchdowns in just 10 games. Nall is a bruising running back, and as such can’t carry the ball more than 20 to 30 times a game. But he does make the most of his carries, as he has averaged 6.4 yards per carry in his college career. On top of his dominance running the ball, he is also an aerial threat, he hauled in 22 catches for 214 yards and two more touchdowns last season. Nall is a hard-nosed north-and-south runner who can be a major issue for defensive fronts not prepared for him.

LB Manase Hungalu — The Oregon State defense was nothing to get excited about last year allowing an average of 30.5 points per game. They did, however, have some standout players like senior linebacker Hungalu. The Hawaii native was second on the team with 49 solo tackles and 83 total tackles in his junior campaign. Hungalu was crucial to the Beaver’s pass defense last season, as he had one interception on top of four pass break ups and five pass deflections. Hungalu is the definition of an impact player for Oregon State, in addition to his other stats he recovered three fumbles in 2016.

Biggest Losses

WR Victor Bolden Jr. — Although the Oregon State air attack was essentially non-existent in 2016, one of the few bright spots was wide receiver Bolden Jr. who led the team with 46 receptions for 542 yards and two touchdowns including a 75-yard touchdown catch. Bolden was also an impact player in the run game as the Fontana, California native carried the ball 28 times for 328 yards and a pair of scores including a 92-yard touchdown run. With just shy of 900 yards of total offense and four total touchdowns, Bolden was signed as an undrafted free agent by the San Francisco 49ers. He will be missed on the offensive side of the ball as the Beavers are tasked with replacing a reliable, speedy receiver who can also take a few carries for good yardage.

LB Caleb Saulo — While Manase Hungalu was an important impact player for OSU’s defense last year, the true backbone was Saulo. Saulo led the team with 95 total tackles, 7 1⁄2 of which were for a loss to go along with four sacks. Like Hungalu, Saulo had an interception and played a large role in the pass defense breaking up three passes and defending four more. His top to bottom consistency will be missed by Oregon State and could potentially leave their defense vulnerable.

Reasons for Optimism

The Beavers lost a lot of their impact players on defense last season leaving many questions heading into the 2017 season. Additionally, as a run-first offense, they won’t be able to take as much advantage of ASU’s questionable at best secondary but will instead have to face a defense that has been somewhat successful against the run in the recent years. When these teams meet up it will be the second-to-last game of the season, so impact players like Ryan Nall could be worn down or injured especially with his playing style which would make life easier for the ASU defense while the offense carves up what is one of the weakest defenses in the power five.

Reasons for Pessimism

Like the last time these two teams met in 2014, the matchup will take place in Corvallis, which has always been a tough place for opponents to play. When the Beavers upset USC in 2008 it was on their home field and through the years ASU has struggled mightily there. If the Beavers can find a way to run to set up the pass they could likely find a hole in the ASU defense, but in order to do that they will first have to establish the run in the first place.