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ASU Football: First look at Oregon State

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The Beavers are coming to town

NCAA Football: Arizona at Oregon State Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Herm Edwards and the Arizona State Sun Devils are still looking for their first Pac-12 win of the season after falling to Washington last week 27-20. They’ll attempt to get it this Saturday against the Oregon State Beavers.

A rebuilding team

The Beavers haven’t made it to a bowl game since 2013. After Mike Riley’s departure to Nebraska and the failure of the Gary Anderson era, things have spiraled down quickly for Oregon State.

Since 2014, the Beavers have a record of 13-39 including this season. That is why Oregon State decided to bring on former Washington offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith to be their head coach. Smith knows a winning team can be formed in Corvallis as he was the quarterback for the Beavers’ 2000 Fiesta Bowl win.

ASU offensive coordinator Rob Likens knows all about the position Smith is in and how it might help the Beavers on Saturday.

“Any time a team feels like they’re just starting their program -- I’ve been a part of that my whole life. I don’t know why but everywhere I’ve ever been except when (former ASU head coach) Todd (Graham) hired me here was the my first time that I’ve ever gone that was established. Every other time I had gone with the head coach my entire time and started our era.

“That’s where they’re at right now. When you’re in that space, basically they have nothing to lose. So they’re dangerous. They can come in here and run whatever they want to run, do whatever they want to do. They’re building that program. The pressure is not on them, I’ll just say it that way. They’re going to play lose, they’re going to come up here, they’re going to have fun.”

Big plays

Oregon State is averaging 32 points per game, just a bit of an upgrade from their 20.7 per game a year ago. The Beavers have six touchdowns of over 30 yards this season. For comparison, ASU has two. One being wide receiver N’Keal Harry’s crazy touchdown in the season opener against UTSA.

Edwards talked about Oregon State’s big plays and team as a whole on Monday.

“(Oregon State is a) very competitive football team, (they) do a nice job of explosive plays, 30 plays of 20 yards or more,” he said. “They’ve got some players on defense that play hard to the whistle, they have some offensive players that can make some plays for them as well. So they’re a team that always seems to be in the game, they play hard for their coach. And it’s another Pac-12 game, we haven’t won a Pac-12 game yet. Got to win one right now. We’ve got a home game, played two good games at home, can’t seem to find a good formula yet on the road, but this is an important game for us because it is a Pac-12 game as well.”

Struggling defense

Every game besides their victory over Southern Utah, the Beavers have allowed 35 points or more. Oregon State also ranks 127th of 129 teams in yards allowed with 540 yards per game. Only Ohio and UCONN rank worse in the category.

This is also a good matchup for the Sun Devils to continue to get going on the ground with the new gap schemes they’ve emplaced. Again, the Beavers ranked 127th in rush defense allowing 280.3 yards per game.