#6 Arizona St. (8-1, 5-1) at Oregon St. (4-5, 1-5) / Reser Stadium / 7:45 PM PDT / ESPN / KEJO 1240 AM / KEX 1190 AM
Oregon St. concludes their 3 game home stand with a visit from Arizona St. It's a late night game, the latest the Beavers have ever begun a game in Corvallis.
Oregon St. and Arizona St. have met 40 times in the last 52 years,, and the Sun Devils have won 2/3s of them, holding a 26-13 edge, with 1 tie. But the Beavers have won 5 of the last 8 games, and the last 4 in Reser, where ASU hasn't won since 2005.
Last year wasn't one of them though, as Arizona St. opened 20 point leads both early and late in the game, before taking the 30-17 win in Tempe. Sean Mannion had one of his most struggling nights of last year, and this year too, for that matter, even given the Beavers' current 4 game losing streak, as the Sun Devils picked him off 4 times.
Oregon St. comes stumbling in, having lost 4 of 5 and 10 of their last 11 Pac-12 contests, dating to last year. That includes last week's 39-32 loss to Washington St., the 3rd home game in a row where the Beavers have come from behind to take the lead in the 4th quarter, only to not be able to hold onto it.
It's prompted an unprecedented level of discontent in Beaver Nation, whose' seats are sitting in last place in the Pac-12 North, yet you can see being in the middle of the conference and national mix with a 7-2 record from those seats, but for those late game get-aways they also saw from those same seats.
The Beavers have also lost 5 games in a row against ranked opponents.
Arizona St. on the other hand has no such dissatisfaction to deal with, having run off 5 straight wins since their late season disaster against UCLA. 4 of those 5 wins have been over ranked opponents, and 3 of them on the road, with last week's 55-31 win over Notre Dame finally seizing the full attention of the country.
Taylor Kelly threw for 3 touchdowns, and D.J. Foster tore up the Irish for 120 rushing yards. If Oregon St. over-commits to containing Foster, the Arizona St. receiving corp, led by Jaelen Strong, who averages 14.2 yards per catch, and has 9 touchdowns, is more than capable of torching them.
At #6 in the College Football Playoffs, but with at least 1 of those ahead guaranteed a loss in a head to head meeting this weekend in Tuscaloosa, and a chance of their own to take out #2 Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship game if they can get through Oregon St., Washington St., and then the Territorial Cup in Tucson against Arizona, Arizona St. controls their own fate all the way to the National Championship.
The Darkness Devils (Oregon St. has seen a Devil in the daylight since 2010) are hovering around being about 9 point favorites on the road in this one, and are the healthier team of the two, with Kelly apparently totally recovered from his early season foot injury.
Oregon St. may get some health help on their defensive line, with Jalen Grimble possibly returning to action for the first time since the USC game. Grimble will probably be a pre-game decision.
TB Storm Woods, who has missed action multiple times this season, including last week's game against Washington St., is also expected to be back.
But the O-line in front of Pac-12 All-time passing yardage record holder Sean Mannion is still cardboard held together with duct tape, and took another hit this week when Roman Sapolu was forced into medical retirement.
Despite the recent struggles the Beavers have had, this is a game that has the potential for "big boy football". Oregon St. is still playing for post season possibilities, and Arizona St. is coming into Reser Stadium a top 6 team in the country. Back in August, had you offered the prospect of playing for the post season, in a game against a visiting nationally ranked opponent, in mid-November, without specifying any names, and regardless of the level, there isn't a player or coach anywhere that wouldn't have immediately said "Sign me up! I want to be in that game!"
No fan should have thought for a moment about missing that opportunity either. This is what we are in it for; November games that matter. We will find out tonight who is really ready for it.
Buildingthedam will be at the game, and back with coverage and analysis, and some hot chocolate (temperatures will be barely in the 30s at kickoff, and dropping to well below freezing as the game goes on, which will be a major shock to the Arizona St. players' systems, and an advantage for the Beavers), afterwards.