ASU Football: The Sun Devils Face a Must Win Situation In Corvallis, OR

Kristian SiutaCorrespondent IIOctober 2, 2010

TEMPE, AZ - OCTOBER 03:  Runningback Jacquizz Rodgers #1 of the Oregon State Beavers rushes the ball for a 32 yard touchdown against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the first quarter of the college football game at Sun Devil Stadium on October 3, 2009 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It is gameday in Corvallis, OR. The Sun Devils and Beavers will kickoff at Reser Stadium at 3:30pm, and ASU might have the advantage before the game even starts.

Dennis Erickson’s ASU team faces a virtual must-win game today versus Oregon State. A road game in the Pacific Ten is never easy to win, however, the maroon and gold might have caught Oregon State at the perfect time.

Not only is the weather at kickoff going to be sunny and in the 70’s, but the chance of rain is only ten percent. In past seasons the playing field has been slanted due to heavy rains, cold temperatures, and subsequent turnovers.

As 2010 has shown, the Sun Devils do not need any factors added into the mix to hinder ASU’s success protecting the football. In perfect conditions last week at home, the Ducks beat Erickson’s side to the tune of seven turnovers.

In a game where ASU will pass the ball close to 50 times, and snap the football every 15 seconds, any precipitation would affect Noel Mazzone’s game plan and style immensely.

On the other hand, the pendulum might be swinging towards the Sun Devil’s side anyway.

Oregon State’s recent success has to be credited to Mike Riley and the job he has done as head coach of the Beavers. But recognition, especially on offense and big plays on special teams, has to be given to the Rodgers’ brothers.

At kickoff, the decision will be made on wide receiver James Rodgers’ playing status. Last week versus Boise State, Rodgers was knocked unconscious briefly, and suffered a concussion on the “Smurf Turf” in Boise just seven days ago.

The temptation for both Riley and Rodgers to force the issue, and test his stability is not wise. The information regarding head injuries has shown that the more time away from contact, the better.

Don’t expect number eight to be in the starting lineup for Oregon State, and that gives ASU’s already dominant defense a major advantage before the ball is even snapped. 

Although James most likely will not be in the lineup today, his brother Jacquizz Rodgers will play an important role in the Beavers’ offense.

Oregon State this season has struggled on offense even with James Rodgers in the lineup. The Beavers passing game has been dreadful, much like the Sun Devils looked last season.

The Beavers are ranked in the 100s in both passing offense and defense, certainly not Mike Riley offensive numbers, right? A big reason for the dropoff from 2009 to ’10 is quarterback Ryan Katz.

The Santa Monica native has yet to pass for more than 160 yards in a single game. Katz, a sophomore, does have some good news surrounding his stats, he has yet to throw an interception on the year.

To be honest, Katz has not had much success trying to complete passes to his own team either. Through three games, Katz’s completion percentage is a woeful 46%.

To compare, ASU signal caller, Steven Threet has a completion percentage of 63 and his low game in passing yards was 211 at Wisconsin.

The offense starts and ends with the quarterbacks, especially in ASU’s offense. Today’s game is a must win game for both squads and the play from both Katz and Threet will decide today’s tilt.

Both teams have suffered two losses on the year, but Oregon State has already beaten a FBS opponent. ASU’s two wins have come against FCS (Division 1-AA) opponents, and technically, the Sun Devils can only count one.

Dennis Erickson needs this game in the worst way. To say ASU is desperate for a win would certainly be true. Two straight losses against top ten teams in mentally taxing. To lose three straight, might just spell “DOOM” for any chances at a bowl game at season’s end.

In Oregon State’s corner, the Beavers started the season ranked in the top 25, and picked second in the Pac-10 media poll. After two losses to Boise State and Texas Christian respectfully, the Beavers are desperate as well.

In terms of entertainment value, at 3:30pm PST, the bone-jarring hits on both sides will keep the fans on the edge of their seats, but for ASU fans, the maroon and gold’s offense will provide the in-game fireworks against an underwhelming Oregon State team.

But don’t get me wrong, this is not a walk in the park. Consider ASU’s past road success. Actually, success is what the home teams have had, ASU has disappointed on the road. Going back to 2007, the Sun Devils are 3-13 on the road, with wins coming at Washington, Washington State, and UCLA.

Just right there, is a major reason why Arizona State has not gone bowling the past two years.

Dennis Erickson’s Sun Devils could take a major step today in achieving their first postseason berth since 2007. A win on the road will not make up for lost opportunities against Wisconsin or Oregon, but a win will restore confidence in the maroon and gold locker room.

Another loss would make for three straight losing efforts. Extended losing streaks have been a common occurrence more than once the past three years, and another similar stretch could be on tap if the Beavers come out on top.