Arizona State's hopes of a Pac-12 championship remain alive after a wild comeback win in Washington last week. This week, the Sun Devils (7-3, 5-2 Pac-12) return to the Pacific Northwest for a date with Oregon State.
The Beavers (6-4, 4-3) earned bowl eligibility for the first time since 2013 with their defeat of Stanford last week. They still have a sliver of hope for winning the Pac-12 North if Utah beats Oregon.
Of course, any prospects are predicated on Oregon State winning late Saturday at Reser Stadium.
Arizona State at Oregon State
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 20 at 10:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Arizona State -3
When Arizona State Has the Ball
Inclement weather in Seattle last week forced an Arizona State offense that was already struggling to pass consistently this season to go to the ground almost exclusively.
The strategy worked out well: The Sun Devils gained almost 300 rushing yards, paced by running back Rachaad White. With his 184 yards and two touchdowns, White furthered his growing case to be Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year.
Arizona State's multi-dimensional run game with White, DeaMonte Trayanum, and quarterback Jayden Daniels is averaging a whopping 5.4 yards per carry, ninth in the nation, and has scored 30 touchdowns.
The Sun Devils look to keep it going against a new-look Oregon State defense. Beavers head coach Jonathan Smith dismissed defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar following an overtime loss to Colorado, Oregon State's fourth consecutive game giving up 30-plus points.
When Oregon State Has the Ball
Just eight teams average more rushing yards per attempt than Arizona State; Oregon State happens to be one of them. The Beavers roll up 5.5 per carry using one of the most diverse rushing attacks anywhere in college football.
Running back B.J. Baylor is already over 1,000 yards on the season and has hit that mark while sharing carries with Deshaun Fenwick, Trey Lowe, quarterback Chance Nolan, and, in short-yardage/goal-line situations, linebacker Jack Colletto.
Arizona State's been solid against the run on the season with a yield of fewer than four yards per carry. The Sun Devils were especially dominant the last two weeks, holding both USC and Washington below the 100-yard mark.
Forcing Oregon State to be a pass-first offense is Arizona State's best path to victory. Nolan has been effective in the passing game, but the Sun Devils' ability to create interceptions (14) has them tied for the Pac-12 lead with Oregon.
Despite some ugly losses to Utah and Washington State last month, Arizona State still has two major, attainable goals. The Sun Devils can win the Pac-12 South if Utah drops its final two, and they'll be in line for a Rose Bowl invite if Oregon reaches the College Football Playoff.
Neither of those milestones is in Arizona State's control, but holding up its end of the bargain by winning out is. Oregon State, meanwhile, has been comparable to the Sun Devils much of the season: excellent rushing offense, exciting and looking capable of winning the conference at times; confoundingly inconsistent at other times.
Saturday night's contest could be as simple as which team plays a more motivated game. Arizona State won't be able to endure another slow start like it had at Washington last week, but the Beavers need their best defensive effort of the season to outlast the Sun Devils.
Prediction: Oregon State 44, Arizona State 41
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