One is coming off a dominant victory — a historic one, to boot. The other is hoping to change the ending to its close-but-not-quite campaign, including what was another frustrating one-score loss last Saturday.
Whatever happens to round out the Pac-12 regular season between the Arizona State Sun Devils and the host Oregon State Beavers, they both hope there's a bonus game for them after Saturday night's scheduled wrap-up at Reser Stadium in Corvallis.
"Our focus is that we've got an opportunity against Arizona State on Saturday," Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith told reporters. "Beyond that, we'll see what happens from there."
A bowl invite would be nice.
But with so many being canceled, there might not be much opportunity, especially for an ASU squad that has only played three games to date and owns a sub-.500 record.
Still, that one win came with quite the fanfare last week when Arizona State smashed host Arizona 70-7 on 42 points in the first half — the most for the program since 1973. It was historic in other ways, as well, including the most points scored by ASU since 70 posted against Colorado State in 1969.
"There's a lot of things to work on — we're nowhere close to where we want to be," a seemingly unimpressed Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards told reporters. "This was the first time for a lot of these freshmen kids who are in our program to have actually won a college game. It was hard. This was their first win. How they use it will be interesting this week."
In Oregon State, Edwards & Co. get another of the Pac-12's annual doormats, but this one has much more staying power than editions of the last handful of seasons.
The Beavers are 2-4 after losing last week's game to visiting Stanford 27-24. But both of their wins have come at home, including one over vaunted — and arch-rival — Oregon. And all of their losses, including last Saturday's, have come primarily in tight, hard-fought contests.
So a third win for the hard-working Beavers to wrap up the regular schedule could certainly lead to a bowl appearance.
Arizona State at Oregon State
Kickoff: Saturday, Dec. 19 at 10:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Arizona State -7.5
When Arizona State Has the Ball
Apparently, the Sun Devils have it in them to put up points. A ton of them. While they didn't record extraordinary numbers on the stat sheet — just 486 total yards — the Sun Devils did get nine touchdowns from their offense last Friday.
Junior running back Rachaad White paced the way with three touchdowns, including a 93-yard romp, as ASU ran the ball well, racking up 259 yards on 50 hauls. White improved his season stats to 262 rushing yards and an eye-popping 9.0-yard average per attempt, while freshman running back Chip Trayanum has rolled up 233 yards and three touchdowns on 37 runs.
Through the air, the Sun Devils have talented quarterback Jayden Daniels leading the charge, with the sophomore posting a solid 41-of-69 passing for 562 yards and four touchdowns against one interception.
"They've got a big-time quarterback that can beat you in multiple ways," Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith told reporters.
Daniels' performance last Friday was limited to just 9-of-11 passing for 203 yards and two touchdowns, due to Edwards committing to the run. In that department, Daniels has 140 yards on the campaign. And his primary targets in the passing game have been White — with a team-high 123 receiving yards on the year — and freshman LV Bunkley Shelton — with a team-high 10 catches.
With injuries mounting on the Beavers, the Sun Devils have a chance to exploit another Pac-12 defense Saturday. Linebacker Avery Roberts broke his arm last week, starting corner Nahshon Wright has a knee issue, and Rejzohn Wright dislocated two fingers in practice this week.
When Oregon State Has the Ball
The big question is whether star running back Jermar Jefferson, who left last week's game with an ankle injury, is able to go. The team is already without quarterback Tristan Gebbia after he underwent season-ending hamstring surgery, so going without Jefferson hurts them even more.
But it's expected that the game-breaking running back, who has 755 rushing yards and seven TDs on 109 carries, will take the field. A d the good news is that Chance Nolan has stepped in strong for Gebbia, giving the Beavers two solid starts so far.
"I think he made a huge jump (last Saturday)," Smith told reporters of Nolan. "You could just feel his comfort level grow."
Nolan was 17-of-30 for 221 yards and three touchdowns in a gutsy 458-yard team effort against Stanford. His top receiver was Tre'Shaun Harrison, with five catches for 91 yards, including a 61-yarder. But another key target, Trevon Bradford is doubtful for the game against ASU, and fellow receiver Champ Flemings is out, while redshirt junior Kolby Taylor — who was the team's second-leading receiver with 20 catches for 224 yards — has medically retired from football.
Still, the Beavers are showing promise.
"Coach Smith has done a marvelous job of really recruiting players that fit his style on offense and defense," Edwards told reporters. "Very, very complicated offense. We dealt with them last year — multi-dimensional, a lot of tight ends, a lot of receivers, a lot of motion."
And they can score these days, averaging 28.2 points per game, while Edwards' crew is allowing just 20.0 points per contest and forced a whopping seven turnovers in that historic triumph last week.
It can't be this easy every week for Arizona State, can it? Judging by the Beavers' failures over the better part of the last decade, it would seem to be another dominant victory on tap for the Sun Devils. After all, they were hitting on all cylinders last week, so why not this week against another seemingly sad-sack Pac-12 side?
Don't bet on it.
Overconfidence might get the better of the young ASU offense in Corvallis, and Oregon State is certainly on the rise with Jefferson as dangerous a weapon as there is in college football. And don't forget, the Beavers edged ASU 35-34 in 2019.
"Much improved football team," Edwards told reporters. "They beat Oregon when they were ranked ninth — that's a big rivalry game for them. Had Washington on the ropes — just couldn't get it in there toward the end. So they've been very competitive."
No ... it won't be easy for the Sun Devils. But Daniels and Edwards should still pilot them to a win — in a tight one — in hostile territory.
Prediction: Arizona State 31, Oregon State 27
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