The tone has been set for the Arizona State Sun Devils Pacific Ten Conference opener, and the phrase being tossed around is, "must win game." To say that this game is a must win, might be a stretch, but for ASU, a win would send a message to the rest of the PAC-10, that the Sun Devils are for real this season.
Although the Sun Devils might have the mentality of a "must win game," the Oregon State Beavers might have something to say about that.
Oregon State Coach Mike Riley, praised the Sun Devils' performance against Georgia last Saturday, but he ended up taking a shot at the Arizona State offense with his compliment regarding the defense. "But that is only half the team!" Riley stated.
Oregon State, doesn't have much to chirp about following their 2-2 start, and two straight home losses to Cincinnati, and Arizona.
Oh, by the way, did i mention the Oregon State Beavers have not won in Tempe since 1969. The Beavers sport a 3-18 record all time in Tempe entering Saturday's contest.
Although, last season the Beavers sent the Sun Devils home from Corvallis with a 27-25 loss, on a two point conversion play.
This season for ASU, the devils will have to stop the Rodgers brothers. Both Jacquizz and James have combined for 548 yards rushing this season in four games, and 538 yards receiving as well. Both Jacquizz and James Rodgers have combined to score nine touchdowns this season. These stats are no doubt at the forefront of those speedy ASU linebackers.
If Oregon State is going to win this game tonight, the Beavers success is going to have to come through the form of the Rodgers brothers.
The question is how well is the OSU offensive line is going to hold up with the return of ASU defensive end James Brooks.
Brooks is not a major threat to get to the quarterback, however, Brooks will play the strong side defensive end, which will free up "sack-master" Dexter Davis, to record his first sack of the season.
On the offensive side of the football, Arizona State will have to continue what worked so well for them in Athens, running the football. Dimitri Nance was the star of the showdown between the hedges last weekend, the question is how well will he perform behind the Sun Devils patch work offensive line this weekend.
I say patchwork offensive line, because this week at right guard was Brenton Good, a former walk-on. When i say former, i mean as of this week he was rewarded a scholarship. Good performed well in practice, after following up a solid performance in the second half against Georgia.
However, the tone of the game will be made by the defense, the offense has to provide enough support and move the football up and down the field and score touchdowns, not field goals.
Player to Watch
RB Dimitri Nance
Dimitri Nance has tied a career high in yards per game in two straight weeks with 92 yards. Nance added a new aspect to his game that many did not see before, his receiving skills. Nance caught the only touchdown of the game last week at Georgia, and provided ASU and quarterback Danny Sullivan with a nice comfort blanket and a playmaker in the screen and draw game.
If Nance has another game like last week, the ASU offense will thrive tonight in Tempe.
Arizona State has to come out tonight and make a statement, that the near upset at Georgia was not a fluke. Everyone around the Phoenix area this week was talking about how bad the offense was last week. I want to see how this offense performs against Oregon State tonight in great conditions, no rain, no lightning, no bulldog fans.
Danny Sullivan will have to complete more than 30 percent of his passes, as he did not do last week for the Sun Devils to have a chance. With that being said, the receivers for Dennis Erickson have to step up and be mentally prepared to play. No dropped balls, that should be the saying for the receivers this week.
When it all comes down to it, the Arizona State defense is dominating. Oregon State will be another test of might for the Devils defense. I think the turnover battle will once again favor the Sun Devils, and I see the Sun Devils lighting up the scoreboard tonight, and bounce back from last weeks performance.
Final Score- 41-24 Arizona State