ASU Football Vs. Oregon State: Devils Flying High, Beavers' Prospects Low

Dennis Erickson faces a familiar foe Saturday night when ASU hosts Oregon State.

These are familiar times in Corvallis and anywhere else where Oregon State fans gather. 

The Beavers are 0-3 for the first time in 15 years. They lost to Sacramento State, yes, Sacramento State. Perennial losers for so many years until Dennis Erickson -- now Arizona State's coach -- spearheaded a turnaround along with current OSU coach Mike Riley in the late 1990s, the Beavs are back to their losing ways.

That could just be an anomaly this season, however. This is the program that had two cracks at the Rose Bowl or a BCS bowl in 2008 and 2009, but couldn't win the rivalry game with Oregon when those chances were there. And the Beavers have good recent history against their opponent on Saturday, No. 25 Arizona State. They have won the past three meetings. 

Which is why Erickson isn't looking past winless Oregon State at all. Even though the Sun Devils are on a high after a huge win over USC over the weekend, and playing at home. 

"They've got some injuries,' Erickson said of the Beavers. "I know that program pretty good, and we haven't beat 'em in three years... They're warriors, they're competitors. They have a lot of pride in what they're doing. You've seen that, I've seen that for a long time. Just when people think they're down, they come back and kick your rear end."

The Sun Devils (3-1 overall, 1-0 in Pac-12) have a healthier running back in Cameron Marshall, who although hobbled by an ankle injury ran for 141 yards and score three touchdowns against USC.  Wide receiver Gerell Robinson, misidentified as Gerell Russell on ESPN Saturday night during a cut-in from the Oregon-Arizona game, caught a key touchdown pass, his second in as many weeks.

Defensively, ASU forced four turnovers and got plenty of pressure on the quarterback. The Devils' third-down defense was rugged, shutting down USC by allowing only one conversion on nine attempts. 

ASU has allowed just 12 of 51 third-down conversions to opponents (23.5 percent), the best rate in the Pac-12. 

Erickson said linebacker Colin Parker, who replaced injured Brandon Magee before the season started, has been "our best defensive player, no question about it, and our most consistent player."

Parker has 31 total tackles, half a sack and a forced fumble so far this season. 

Quarterback Brock Osweiler, who came back from a lower-caliber effort at Illinois in a loss the week before to get rid of the ball faster and complete 78.1 percent of his pass attempts against USC, said he learned a lot between games. 

"The Illinois game might have been a blessing in disguise," he said. "Sometimes a game like that is really good for the team."

Osweiler also said people need to recognize WR Mike Willie for his blocking when ASU runs the ball. "He flat out just dominates guys at the line of scrimmage," Osweiler said.

Oregon State might look to blitz often on Saturday. Osweiler admitted he'd never seen a defense like that  of Illinois, which "brought the dogs on very play," and forced mistakes or incomplete passes. 

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