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ESPN’s Mark May says containing Oregon State’s passing game key for ASU

LISTEN: Mark May, ESPN college football analyst

As Arizona State hosts Oregon State Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium, ESPN college football analyst Mark May says the key for ASU will be to contain the Beavers’ passing game, and that it won’t be easy.

OSU boasts two players, Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks, who are leading the nation in passing and receiving yards, respectively.

“Oregon State’s not an easy team. Their defense is so-so. Can (ASU) contain their passing game? That’s going to be the real problem,” May told Arizona Sports 620’s Burns & Gambo Tuesday. “And nobody’s really stopped them, except Stanford. Stanford really kind of shut down Sean Mannion and their wide receiver (Cooks).”

Stanford defeated OSU 20-12 two weeks ago in Oregon. Mannion threw for 271 yards and Cooks had 80 yards receiving — both modest numbers compared to the duo’s usual output.

“(Cooks) is quick as a hiccup. He’s not really big. They list him, I think, as 6-foot or 6-foot-1. He’s really like 5-foot-11, but he’s quick and he runs terrific routes,” the analyst said.

May was hesitant to praise the Sun Devils’ recent 20-19 win on the road over Utah, even though it was the team’s fourth victory in a row.

“Boy, they squeaked that one out,” he said. “They had to have a defensive lineman [Will Sutton] come up with an interception to get the win against the Utes.”

Utah dropped to 4-5, including 1-5 in the Pac-12, with its loss last Saturday to ASU.

“Job well done, guys. I’m very proud of those (ASU) players. They’ve worked their tails off,” May said sarcastically.

The analyst also said the Sun Devils may have a chance to play for the Rose Bowl at the end of the season, and he offered some advice on how the team can get there.

“If they can keep the ship going, I think it’s going to be a good season for them. They’ve just got to finish strong. That’s the key,” he said. “It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish. They need to finish strong. They’ve got to play consistently throughout the year. They went three games in a row of scoring 50 points-plus, then all of a sudden they get stymied in Utah. So, it’s one of those things: What track are they on?”