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at Arizona State 35 … Oregon State 20

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Oct 1, 2011


Week 5 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Oregon State at Arizona State


2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 5 - Oregon St at Arizona St

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Oct. 1 at Arizona State 35 … Oregon State 20
CFN Analysis: It took way too much effort to put away a bad Oregon State team, especially after the momentum and the high from the USC win, but it was still a 15-point victory. Cameron Marshall pounded away at the right time with two good scores, and the defense stuffed the Beavers all game long, but the four turnovers kept the game alive. This didn’t necessarily look like an unfocused effort; it just wasn’t a sharp game against a team ASU seemed to know it could put away. On the road for four of the next five games, being mistake free will be a must. The turnovers were only really a problem this week; ASU doesn’t have a big problem.

This is a lost year for a bad team that can’t score and can’t run the ball a lick, so it’s all about improving by the week and finding positives to build off of. Sean Mannion wasn’t efficient and the four interceptions were disastrous, but he threw 66 times for 341 yards and kept pressing. The pass rush was solid and the defense did a decent job of keeping the high-powered ASU offense under wraps, but it was still a double-digit loss. With Arizona and BYU at home over the next two weeks, it’s now or never for wins with most of the Pac-12 big boys still to play and four road games in the final six. Cutting down the turnovers is a must and finding some semblance of a running game that works would be nice.

(AP) TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona State vowed to learn a lesson from its disheartening loss to Illinois two weeks earlier.

It sure seemed to take a while to sink in.

Laboring again the week after an impressive win, the 25th-ranked Sun Devils had three of their four turnovers in the first quarter before pulling away for a 35-20 victory over winless Oregon State on Saturday night behind Cameron Marshall's two wrecking-ball touchdowns.

"I wasn't surprised one bit, unfortunately," Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson said. "I've been around this game a lot of years and sometimes it just happens; you come off a big win and regardless of what you say or do, sometimes you just come out flat."

Coming off a resounding win over nemesis Southern California -- the Trojans had beaten them the 11 previous games -- the Sun Devils (4-1, 2-0 Pac-12) were out of sorts against Oregon State, turning it over on their first three possessions to fall into a 13-0 hole.

Unlike two weeks before, when Arizona State fell flat against unranked Illinois on the heels of a win over then-No. 21 Missouri, the Sun Devils fought their way back.

Brock Osweiler overcame a miserable start -- two interceptions and a fumble in the first three possessions -- to throw both of his touchdown passes in the first half.

Jamal Miles followed with Arizona State's first punt return for a touchdown since 2005 on his way to 249 total yards. Marshall closed it out, spoiling any hope of the Beavers making a comeback by bulling through a team's worth of tacklers on touchdown runs of 37 and 8 yards after Oregon State pulled within one.

Fighting off a winless team with road games Utah and Oregon coming up next, yes, the Sun Devils are feeling relieved.

"We've shown that we can play with the best of them this season, but sometimes in football games there's difficult times, and tonight this football team showed a lot of character to play through that," said Osweiler, who finished 24 for 37 for 258 yards while accounting for all of Arizona State's turnovers. "Obviously, we can't win if we keep doing that."

Oregon State (0-4, 0-2) had Arizona State on the ropes early, thanks to two interceptions by Jordan Poyer, and put constant pressure on Osweiler, sacking him four times. The Beavers rallied after the Sun Devils tried to pull away, getting within one on James Rodgers' 5-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter.

Oregon State just couldn't pull it off again in the end, unable to tackle Marshall on his two touchdown runs or overcome Sean Mannion's four interceptions to fall just short and prolong its worst start since 1996.

"Under these circumstances, a tough loss, you really can't feel good about too much," said Mannion, who set school records for completions and attempts while throwing for 341 yards and a touchdown on 40-of-66 passing.

Arizona State was hoping to avoid another letdown after dropping out of the rankings following the loss to Missouri.

Back in the polls after the win over USC, the Sun Devils again looked flat against an 18-point underdog.

Osweiler was picked off by Poyer on the Sun Devils' first drive, then lost a fumble scrambling from pressure on the second. Arizona State's defense did its best to make up for the two miscues, holding Oregon State to field goals of 34 and 21 yards by Trevor Romaine.

The Sun Devils couldn't stop Oregon State after Poyer came up with his second pick; Terron Ward put the Beavers up 13-0 by breaking three tackles on his way to a 10-yard touchdown run.

Arizona State finally found some life early in the second quarter, with Osweiler hitting A.J. Pickens for his first career TD, a 17-yarder on a crossing route that cut Oregon State's lead to 13-7.

Osweiler then hit Gerell Robinson on a 24-yard touchdown pass midway through the second quarter on a drive that started with Poyer's muffed punt and included a fumble by Marshall that was overturned by video review.

Miles followed with a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown, juking two defenders at the point of contact before bursting up the middle to put Arizona State up 21-13 at halftime.

"At the half, I was frustrated because it didn't have to be like that," Oregon State coach Mike Riley said. "We had given them some stuff in that first half that got them not only back in it, but the lead. I just wanted the team to know that what Arizona State had gotten was kind of a gift from us."

Seemingly in control, the Sun Devils still weren't done with the mistakes.

Osweiler opened the second half by throwing into triple coverage and Oregon State's Anthony Watkins snatched it, returning the interception 40 yards to the 11. Mannion threw on the run to hit Rodgers on a 5-yard touchdown pass two plays later, pulling Oregon State to 21-20.

That was it for the Beavers, though.

Marshall answered with a did-he-just-do-that touchdown, bouncing off and dragging at least five tacklers on the way to a 37-yard score. He capped it off by bulling through Oregon State's defense again on the next drive, scoring from 8 yards out to make it 35-20 and send the Sun Devils to a tougher-than-expected win.

"It felt good," said Marshall, who had 80 yards on 14 carries. "I just kept moving my feet and kept getting guys to bounce off me until I got into the end zone."

It's a good thing for the Sun Devils that he did.

Oregon State (0-3) at Arizona State (3-1) Oct. 1, 10:30, FCS

Here’s The Deal … Keep your eye on the ball, Sparky. Arizona State is coming down from the high of trucking USC, 43-22, for one of the most important wins of head coach Dennis Erickson’s five-year tenure. So what’s next for the program? A visit from slumbering Oregon State, which looks as if it might pull up the rear in the Pac-12 this season. If the Sun Devils are truly the favorite in the South Division, they’ll dispose of an inferior opponent in businesslike fashion. If they’re unable to handle prosperity, it could be a bad omen, especially with upcoming road games at Utah and Oregon.

The Beavers have lost their bite. The once ultra-consistent program under coach Mike Riley has stumbled out of the gate with consecutive losses to Sacramento State, Wisconsin and UCLA. That most recent loss to the Bruins over the weekend may have been a tipping point, signaling a point of no return for 2011.

Why Oregon State Might Win: While not a lot has gone right for the Beavers so far, the good news is that the team is finally getting healthier. Somewhat lost in last week’s uninspired defeat is the fact that sparkplug WR James Rodgers and talented H-back Joe Halahuni came off injured reserve for the first time this season. Plus, fingers are crossed in Corvallis that true freshman RB Malcolm Agnew, who debuted in the opener with 223 yards and three scores, will be medically cleared after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury. All of the additions will support the development of redshirt freshman QB Sean Mannion, who’ll be starting his second career game.

Why Arizona State Might Win: In general, the Sun Devils are going to be a little too fast and a little too opportunistic for an Oregon State team that’s only executing intermittently. With LB Vontaze Burfict as the alpha dog, Arizona State has held Illinois and USC to just 39 points and 6-of-22 on third down attempts over the last two weeks. No. 7 aside, there aren’t many can’t-miss all-star candidates, yet Craig Bray’s unit continues to stand tall at the most opportune time. On offense, ASU will have its choice of how to exploit a flimsy Beavers defense. It can either navigate the airways on the powerful right arm of Brock Osweiler or ride the broad shoulders of RB Cameron Marshall. The junior was one of the stars of the Trojans win, carrying 25 times for 141 yards and three touchdowns.

What To Watch Out For: While it might not impact the outcome of this week’s game, at some point soon, Arizona State will need someone to step up and replace the production of injured DE Junior Onyeali. Burfict, a linebacker, has a team-leading four, but where are the ends? Veteran Jamaar Jarrett and junior-college transfer Davon Coleman earned starts last week, but failed to bring Matt Barkley down. It’s an area of the D that the Sun Devils staff would like to see more from on Saturday night.

What Will Happen: While recent history says anything is possible with Erickson’s erratic bunch, Arizona State is fortunate to be playing in Tempe against a skidding opponent. Whatever lack of focus it displays in the early going won’t haunt the team in the second half. The Sun Devils will prove to be too fast and too confident for the Beavers, pulling away shortly after halftime without looking back. Previous versions of Riley’s team would have been a threat here, but not this current one.

CFN Prediction: Arizona State 38 … Oregon State 16
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