Sun Devils prepare to face Beavers, the team that still haunts them

Nov 15, 2017, 8:42 PM | Updated: 8:44 pm

TEMPE, Ariz. — In 2014, Arizona State football was on top of its game.

It was 8-1 and ranked sixth in the nation in the College Football Playoff rankings after big wins over No. 16 USC, No. 23 Stanford, No. 17 Utah and No. 10 Notre Dame. A game against 4-5 Oregon State in Corvallis loomed.

With their playoff hopes on the line, ASU lost to the Beavers 35-27, crippling its chance to win the Pacific-12 South.

Fast forward three years and the 5-5 Sun Devils are heading back to Corvallis to face a 1-9 Beavers team and hoping to earn bowl eligibility.

“I don’t think our guys think about all that stuff,” coach Todd Graham said when asked about a rematch with Oregon State. “Our guys are focused on getting the next win, getting bowl-eligible. …That’s it.”

That loss has haunted the Sun Devils, who have gone 18-20 since then, not a follow-up that many would expect for a team that was in the hunt for the playoffs.

Graham, too.  When asked recently about finishing in November and if he still thinks about Oregon State, he said, “Can you tell? Yeah, I do.”

On Monday he added, “Here’s the bottom line – November is for champions. Most people self-select that. It’s how bad you want it. There’s a bunch of wear and tear. That’s where the physicality of the game (is), that’s why you see those (runs).”

Graham didn’t just spend his time talking about the 2014 Beavers. He said that the team this year after their head coach switch from Gary Anderson to Cory Hall has looked “much more aggressive.”

“Very talented running backs, very talented skill players, quarterback is a really good operator,” Graham said. “A lot of misdirection. They are going to trick play you as well.

“They have been close in a lot of games. They have obviously had the coaching change, and they have played with spirit, they have played with enthusiasm. This is their Senior Day and not a senior in the country is not going to get up and play their best game on their Senior Day. But it’s all about us, it’s all about going and playing disciplined football and getting after it and being hungry to get the next win.”

The Sun Devils need to win one more game to become bowl eligible, and though this would build pressure for other teams, Graham said the pressure was already there three games ago.

“The pressure would have been to beat USC and beat UCLA, win the conference championship,” Graham said. “That’d be the pressure. We don’t even talk about that. We talk about winning championships, but we did talk about it after this game.

“We’ve got to get things corrected, we’ve got to get better, we’ve got to have a great week of practice and for these seniors we need to go get bowl-eligible. And we have two games left in the regular season and the next one is the most important. And then you go to the next one.”

Cronkite Sports

Cronkite Sports

Sports gambling in Arizona moves closer to reality

In the near future, the Arizona sports fan’s experience could include the ability to place bets inside sports venues while the action unfolds.

3 years ago

Higley quarterback Kai Millner committed to Cal this spring, despite visiting the campus just once ...

Cronkite Sports

Arizona high school football recruits still committing amid coronavirus

Despite visiting campuses few times if at all in some cases, class of 2021 high school football prospects from Arizona are committing at record rates.

4 years ago

(Photo via Cronkite News courtesy Mesa Community College Facebook)...

Arizona Sports

COVID-19 prompts junior colleges to push for cancellation of sports

The 2020-21 school year for Maricopa County community colleges may not include sports, schools await a decision by the district chancellor.

4 years ago

New Coyotes President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez believes outreach in the Arizona Hispanic market is ...

Cronkite Sports

New Coyotes CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez looks to reach Latino community

New Coyotes CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez is the first Latino president and CEO in NHL history and hopes to reach new fans in the Valley.

4 years ago

Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, who joined the Phoenix Mercury in the offseason, is ready to get the WNBA...

Cronkite Sports

Full pay, 22-game season in Florida on tap for Phoenix Mercury

Another league has agreed on a return-to-play plan in the month of July. This time it’s the WNBA, whose members include the Phoenix Mercury.

4 years ago

Phoenix Rising FC assistant coaches Peter Ramage (left) and Blair Gavin are awaiting details about ...

Cronkite Sports

Phoenix Rising players await news on resumption of USL Championship

Phoenix Rising FC and the USL Championship are set to resume play July 11 while players wait on more details for the return.

4 years ago

Sun Devils prepare to face Beavers, the team that still haunts them