The 19th-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils look to extend their winning streak to five games as they take on the 6-3 Oregon State Beavers Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium. The Beavers come in having lost two in a row, but the Sun Devils will likely have their hands full with two OSU offensive players who are having a remarkable year.
Beavers quarterback Sean Mannion leads the nation with 3,540 yards passing and is tied for second with 32 touchdown tosses. Mannion’s favorite target this year has been junior receiver Brandin Cooks, who leads the country with 1,344 receiving yards and is second with 14 touchdown catches.
“He has a lot of talent and he works extremely hard, and that’s why we’ve been so successful,” Mannion said of Cooks on Tuesday while on Arizona Sports 620’s Burns & Gambo show Tuesday. “This is our third year together. So I think we’ve thrown a lot of balls to each other. We have an idea of where each other is going to be, and I think we have our timing down pretty good by now.”
Despite his team’s success in the passing game all year, Mannion acknowledged that Saturday’s showdown in Tempe won’t be a walk in the park for the Beavers offense.
“They’re an outstanding defense. I think they’re going to present a lot of different challenges,” the junior quarterback said. “Arizona State is a team full of athletes. I think they’ve got a real good (defensive) front, especially (Will) Sutton’s obviously one of the best players in the conference; he’ll be a challenge for us to handle.
“I think as long as we study up and just focus on our assignments and our execution, I think we’ll have a good chance.”
When asked if the road game will present additional challenges, Mannion said his team doesn’t really get fazed by playing away from Reser Stadium. The Beavers’ 4-0 record in away games this year backs up his claim.
“Our program does a real good job of trying to keep everything pretty uniform in terms of our routine — whether we’re at home or on the road,” the 21-year-old said. “As a player, I treat it pretty much the same. Even for home games, we stay in the hotel, so that’s nothing new. I honestly just try not to really think about it.”
The Sun Devils will be putting up their 5-0 mark at Sun Devil Stadium this season against the Beavers’ success on the road, so a first defeat is coming for whichever team falls short.