Nov 8, 2014; Corvallis, OR, USA; Oregon State Beavers wide receiver Victor Bolden (6) runs the ball against the Washington State Cougars at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
The Oregon State Beavers face their toughest challenge for the 2014 campaign with The #6 Arizona State Sun Devils, fresh off a 55-31 drubbing of Notre Dame, into Reser Stadium Saturday Night. Kickoff is slated for 7:45 p.m.
The Beavers are currently riding a 4 game winning streak against the Sun Devils in Reser Stadium. If the Beavers want to make it five in a row, it’ll take a monumental effort on both sides of the football.
Arizona State is is currently riding a five game winning streak of it’s own with an impressive track record of wins over ranked opponents. In fact; Oregon State will be just the second team in Arizona State’s last five that is not ranked in the top 25. The Sun Devils have handed losses out to USC, Stanford, Washington, Utah, and most recently Notre Dame (with Washington being the other unranked match up).
A high powered, up tempo offense has been key to The Sun Devils success in 2014. Arizona State is third in the conference in points per game (36.7) and sixth in the conference in terms of yards per game (475.7). The Sun Devils also boast one of the most well-balanced offenses in the conference, putting up 283 yards through the air and 192 yards on the ground per contest.
Commanding the Sun Devil offense is Senior Quarterback Taylor Kelly. With a stout offense line, a plethora of weapons in the backfield and downfield, and the ability to move the chains with his feet, Kelly could spell doom for a Beaver defense that surrendered 500 yards of offense to a wounded Washington State.
Behind Kelly is D.J. Foster, an explosive running back with home run potential on every play. Foster had hit a cold patch during the Sun Devil’s recent winning streak, but made his presence felt against the Fighting Irish, racking up 120 yards on 21 carries. The Scottsdale, Ariz. native hasn’t reached the pay dirt since ASU’s Week 7 game against Stanford. Extending that scoreless streak and putting pressure on Kelly to make big throws down field will be essential to Oregon State’s containment of The Sun Devils.
Oregon State committed five turnovers in last year’s 30-17 loss at Sun Devil Stadium. Sean Mannion will need to protect the ball while in the pocket and make smart throws to deflated the presence of an opportunistic Arizona State secondary. Two turnovers or more could spell doom for the Beavers slim chances on Saturday night.
The Sun Devil defensive front has booked 27 sacks on the season, good for fourth in the conference. The Beavers will need to do a better job of securing the pocket and giving Mannion the time he needs to work through his progressions in order to keep pace with Arizona State’s high scoring offense.
The weather forecast is set for a bitter, cold Saturday night in Beaver Nation. The frigid conditions could work in the Beavers favor, as acclimate weather usually creates unstable game play. For Oregon State, the wilder; the better.
Score Prediction: ASU 45 – 17 OSU
Positional Prediction: Victor Bolden stays hot and picks up at least 10 catches in the game.