No. 11 Oregon State has gone 6-1 this season largely because of its defense, but Arizona State has a secret weapon and his name is Taylor Kelly.
The sophomore quarterback has unexpectedly surpassed Michael Eubank on the depth chart at ASU this season and his performance against UCLA last week was enough proof that he is the right man for the job.
While Arizona State lost last week, 45-43, you can't exactly pin that on Kelly. He completed 25 of 35 passes for 315 yards and four touchdowns with one interception.
With the Sun Devils trailing after the third quarter, 35-26, Kelly led them to three scores (two touchdowns, one field goal), only to see UCLA kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn knock in a 33-yarder as time expired.
For the season, Kelly has averaged 9.2 yards per pass attempt, tied for ninth in the nation. He's also tossed 19 touchdowns to five interceptions.
That's not all. Oregon State star cornerback Jordan Poyer is expected to miss the game against Arizona State with a PCL strain, according to Lindsay Schnell of The Oregonian.
Widely projected to be the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Poyer has notched five interceptions, nine pass deflections, 27 tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble this season. While Oregon State does have some depth behind him with seniors Brian Watkins and Ryan Handford, Poyer is simply one of those guys you can't replace.
You pit a rolling Taylor Kelly against an Oregon State defense without Poyer and there is certainly some room for concern in Corvallis.
You add the unrest at the quarterback position for the Beavers (sophomore Cody Vaz will supplant Sean Mannion this week) and the fact they're coming off a 20-17 loss to Washington, and I don't see this working out well for them, even at home.
Prediction: Arizona State 24, Oregon State 17
For a pretty play between Kelly and receiver Kevin Ozier against Utah, check out Pac-12.com.
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