Demario Richard runs for history while the Sun Devils aim for bowl eligibility with a road win over the Beavers
The Sun Devils (5-5, 4-3 Pac-12) are looking to claim a second Pac-12 road win in the same season for the first time since 2014. Arizona State's only road win in league play so far this season came at Utah in late October. The Sun Devils lost their most recent road contest, falling to UCLA 44-37 last Saturday.
The Beavers (1-9, 0-7) are running out of chances to avoid going winless in Pac-12 play for the second time in three seasons. Oregon State has lost seven league contests by an average of 18.7 points, with the latest being a 49-28 setback against Arizona. Seven of the team's nine losses have come by double-digit margins.
Arizona State has had an upper hand in the series with Oregon State, holding a 27-13-1 overall lead. The Beavers have fared better at home, however, going 9-7-1 in Corvallis.
Arizona State at Oregon State
Kickoff: Saturday Nov. 18 at 3 p.m. ET
TV Channel: Pac-12 Networks
Spread: Arizona State –7
Three Things to Watch
1. Joining the 3,000-yard club
Demario Richard has left a lasting mark in Arizona State's backfield with his game-changing running abilities. Now Richard can climb into an exclusive club among Sun Devils running backs.
The senior needs just 132 rushing yards to become the fifth career 3,000-yard rusher in school history. Richard currently has 2,868 career yards after amassing 693 yards on 146 carries this season and is coming off back-to-back 100-yard rushing games against Colorado and UCLA. His ability to get things done in the backfield makes what Manny Wilkins can do in the passing game feel more dangerous.
With Richard running at full strength, Arizona State has made great strides in rushing offense as the season has progressed. The Sun Devils have totaled 675 yards on the ground over their last two games. This represents 41 percent of the team's total of 1,646 rushing yards this season.
2. Can Oregon State run or stop the run?
Getting production from both its run offense and run defense has become problematic for the Beavers all season. Opponents are torching Oregon State on the perimeter, and the Beavers aren't getting enough push up front in the offensive trenches to give running back Ryan Nall (above, right) a reasonable chance to wear down defenses.
Nall is putting up good numbers with his workhorse effort in the backfield. After churning out 95 yards on 22 carries last week against Arizona, Nall currently has 2,133 career rushing yards, moving into the Oregon State top 10, but he isn't getting much help from an offensive line that isn't opening run gaps consistently. The Beavers rank 71st among FBS teams with just 4.23 yards per carry.
Defensively, Oregon State can't slow down talented runners at all. In back-to-back weeks, the Beavers have been lit up by California's Patrick Laird and Arizona's Khalil Tate and have dropped to 120th in the FBS in run defense, yielding 223.2 yards on the ground per contest.
3. Harry closing in on record
N'Keal Harry has been a model of consistency in two seasons at Arizona State. Harry has started 22 straight games for the Sun Devils and has logged a reception in every single game. He is the only true sophomore in the nation to start and catch a pass in the first 22 games of his career.
Harry's ability to stay involved and make plays for the offense has him closing in on a spot in the team record books. The sophomore has totaled 66 receptions through 10 games. He needs just 22 more catches to set a new single-season record for receptions. The current record holder, Shaun McDonald, totaled 87 receptions in 2002.
The record is definitely within reach if Arizona State makes it to a bowl game. Harry has had six or more receptions in seven different games this season. He has totaled 889 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
The Sun Devils are one win away from bowl eligibility, and this is a perfect opportunity to reach that coveted six-win plateau. Things turned south for Oregon State a long time ago, and it's tough to see the Beavers getting into the win column in Pac-12 play this season. Oregon State has won five straight home games over Arizona State, but with the Beavers' inability to stop the run or generate consistent offense, don't count on the streak being extended to six.
Prediction: Arizona State 42, Oregon State 28
— Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.