Dennis Erickson is headed back to Corvallis, and he brings an Arizona State team that seems ready to overachieve in Pac-10 play.
As usual, a panel of BTD contributors have assembled to share their final thoughts in preparation for today's 3:30 PM game with Arizona State.
Both Arizona St. and Oregon St. can jump start their Pac-10 Conference season with a win, or risk it becoming a very long one with a loss. Oregon St. has got to stop playing like a SunBelt conference team in terms of total offense generated and allowed, though not playing a top five squad should help.
The Beavers need to stay focused, and make plays. The Sun Devils need to stay focused, and stop making mistakes. Two of the most experienced and respected coaches in the country, never mind the conference, who also just happen to be friends, and Mike Riley and Dennis Erickson, are in position to lead their teams thru that challenge,quite popular around Corvallis, and it will be as interesting to see which one does the best job of that as it will be to see if Ryan Katz or Steven Threet does the better job of putting their team mates in position to make plays.
It's October, and that normally means Riley's team takes off. But based on how well Arizona St. showed against highly ranked teams the last two weeks, I think this game depends on James Rodgers, who has passed all the post-concussion tests, but hasn't been declared available by Riley. Especially because of his impact on special teams. If Riley is playing games with Erickson, and James plays his full package, I anticipate a 34-27 Oregon St. win. If James sits, I see a 27-23 Sun Devil upset.
The Beavers need to win this game. Oregon State's losses to TCU and Boise State have shown that the Beavers are knocking on the door-- OSU needs to break through and win games like this. Arizona State is one heck of a team behind quarterback Steven Threet, but the OSU defense needs to prove they can compete against a Pac-10 offense. It will be interesting to see if this offense can function if James doesn't play-- it will be a test to see how good the likes of Aaron Nichols, Jordan Bishop, and Darrell Catchings are.
OSU's non-conference schedule was supposed to prepare the teams for big games. This is the first Pac-10 game of the season for the Beavers, but it sure feels like a big one. Somethings tells me we will know a lot more about this team by the end of the day.
We should really find out who the Beavers are as a team after this game. It won't be the end of the world if we lose, but we need to come out with some swagger and intensity. We came out flat and slow against Louisville, let the Cardinal think they had a chance of winning it, and they took us to the wire.
In the end, we just need to do the basics. Get the ball to Jacquizz, play some good Defense, and make our Field Goals. If we do those things, we should win this one.
Prediction: Oregon State-31, Arizona State-17
Once again, Oregon State's defense needs to come up big, this time against a team that's racked up the fourth most passing yards in the country through 4 games. I think we'll get to bust out all those Doctor puns we've been holding onto for so long, because I have a feeling he'll get some playing time, and Lance Mitchell needs to interrupt the passing game. Luckily, ASU QB Steven Threet isn't much of a running threat, and he also has a tendency to throw interceptions, both of which OSU needs to capitalize on, especially late in the game.
On offense, I wouldn't be surprised if Arizona State's defense tries to take some big hits on James Rodgers, who may not be 100% on Saturday. Katz, keep that goose egg in the "INT" column of your statline. Halahuni, keep it going. And yes, Quizz, you need to do better than you have been so far, which I think you will.