Sun Devils clinch bowl eligibility with 40-24 win over Oregon State

ASU will go to a bowl game after winning its sixth game of the season

After going 1-2 in its first three games, it would have been a tough task to find ASU fans at the time who were confident the program would advance to a bowl game. 

But now the Sun Devils are 6-5 (5-3 Pac-12) following a 40-24 road victory over Oregon State (1-10, 0-8 Pac-12), and with six wins, ASU will find itself playing in a bowl game in December.

"It is very important for our program, it is very important for recruiting," head coach Todd Graham said. "It is not our ultimate goal but it is something that is very, very important that you do every year, something we have become accustomed to."

The players echoed Graham's thoughts.

"Personally, I wanted to make sure that we got this one, and really go get this next one so that we get to a bowl," redshirt junior quarterback Manny Wilkins said.

Wilkins threw for 167 yards and two touchdowns, opening the scoring with a 23-yard strike down the middle of the field to sophomore wide receiver Kyle Williams, and supplemented that with a one-yard fade pass to freshman receiver Curtis Hodges, which gave Hodges his first collegiate touchdown.

Those scores gave the Sun Devils an early 14-0 lead and from there they never looked back, leaning on a strong running attack to control the line of scrimmage and led to a 30-7 halftime lead.

ASU bruised the Beavers for 286 rushing yards with senior running back Demario Richard pounding for 119 rushing yards and three touchdowns, while fellow senior running back Kalen Ballage added 103 rushing yards of his own.

Richard thought some of his success came from exploiting one of OSU's weaknesses.

"We knew our goal was to come out and play fast," Richard said. "We saw them on film and they had a hard time with tempo, getting lined up. So we just came out and pushed the tempo, and it showed in the first quarter, and second quarter and third quarter."

The strategy worked well. ASU averaged 5.8 yards per carry against the Beavers and had no trouble marching up and down the field in the first half. 

Building a large advantage was crucial for ASU, because even though OSU came in with a poor record, the Beavers had been competitive in their past few games.

"We knew how important it was to come in here ready to play," Graham said. "Because that is a team that went to the last play against Stanford. We came out and we were laser focused."

OSU never let the Sun Devils get too comfortable. Midway though the fourth quarter ASU had a 40-10 lead, but the Beavers made it a two-score game with touchdown runs from senior quarterback Darell Garretson and senior running back Trevorris Johnson, slicing the Sun Devil lead to 40-24 with over seven minutes to play.

The Beavers threatened in the ASU red zone once more, but a fumbled snap from Garretson ended the scoring threat. 

And with that, the Sun Devils clinched their sixth win, ensuring that ASU will go to a bowl game for the fifth time under the six-season Graham era. 

The Sun Devils' next game will be Saturday, Nov. 25, at 2:30 p.m. at Sun Devil Stadium against Arizona.


Reach the reporter at mpharri7@asu.edu or follow @Harris_Mark7 on Twitter.

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