Saturday night wasn't Arizona State's best night of football this season, and against a team of higher caliber, the Sun Devils might have fallen.
Four turnovers and four sacks of quarterback Brock Osweiler were disappointing. But ASU was far and away the better team on the field at Sun Devil Stadium, and did what Top 25-ranked teams do to lesser opponents in defeating Oregon State 35-20.
The Beavers actually trailed by one, 21-20, midway through the third quarter after James Rodgers' touchdown catch. But they wouldn't get closer and had only themselves to blame for 13 penalties for 139 yards and four turnovers of their own.
The 25th-ranked Sun Devils got two touchdown runs from running back Cameron Marshall, one a punishing burst in which he bowled over one would-be tackler and broke two others for a 37-yard score in the third quarter. Junior wide receiver A.J. Pickens caught his first touchdown as a Sun Devil and safety Alden Darby intercepted two passes to lead the Devils (2-0 in Pac-12, 4-1 overall).
"Guys just kept bouncing off of me and I was able to put it in the end zone," Marshall said.
"I have to give my defensive line a lot of credit for getting pressure on the quarterback," Darby said.
Arizona State goes to Utah next week with a chance to effectively lock up the Pac-12 South title, as strange as that may seem in October. The Devils have Utah, which lost badly to Washington Saturday at home, then lowly Colorado in Tempe, at under-.500 UCLA and at home for struggling Arizona remaining in South Division play. At this point, those are all winnable games.
ASU also figures to move up in the polls.
The Sun Devils will need to play much better, however. Quarterback Brock Osweiler threw three interceptions and lost a fumble and ASU finished 1-for-10 on third down. The Beavers, winless this season in four games, did some things on defense ASU had not seen on film. Quarterback Sean Mannion completed 40 passes on 66 attempts for 341 yards.
"It was really errors I can't make," Osweiler said. "Obviously we can't play like this every week."
Osweiler did make some key completions, however, as ASU began to settle in and figure out what the Beavers' defense was doing.
"He reacted, he hung in there, there wasn't any panic in him," coach Dennis Erickson said of Osweiler, who was 24 of 37 for 258 yards.
The other highlight of the night for ASU was Jamal Miles' 78-yard punt return in the second quarter. It gave the Devils a 21-13 lead as ASU stormed back from a 13-0 deficit two plays into the second quarter.
Miles recorded the first punt-return TD in 68 games for ASU, a span of almost six years. He now has a TD pass, a kick return TD, a punt return TD and three TD catches this season alone, according to the school's sports information department.
"I certainly would be surprised if he is able to play next week," Erickson said. Gerhart, a senior, was replaced by sophomore Kody Koebensky.