Impact: ASU football needs one more win to prevent derailed season

The Sun Devils lost to UCLA on Saturday, but the team can carry a handful of positives into next week

It was all coming to fruition – ASU football nailed down an early lead against the UCLA Bruins (5-5, 3-4) and bowl eligibility was a pitchfork away. 

But before you could say bowl eligibility, the Sun Devils (5-5, 4-3) surrendered their lead and couldn’t find a way to stay atop the scoreboard at the end of the night. 

Still in search for its sixth win of the year, ASU can head into next week’s final road game versus the Oregon State Beavers (1-9, 0-7) with confidence.

The Beavers have chalked up one win all season, and the Sun Devils’ offense can build off a handful of positives from Saturday’s loss. 

First off, senior running backs Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage carried the ball effectively against the Bruins. Both ran the rock 21 times apiece for a combined 222 yards. 

Granted, UCLA’s defensive front is one of the worst in the country, but Richard is just a week removed from a career night. 

Redshirt junior quarterback Manny Wilkins will shrug this loss pretty easily, considering that he completed 21 of 37 passes for 290 yards and both a passing and rushing score.

Despite next Saturday’s game taking place in Corvallis, Oregon, ASU has the edge in seemingly every aspect of the game. 

Would it have been a relief for the program to secure its sixth win prior to the last two games? Of course, but by no means was this loss to the Bruins reason for Sun Devil fans to give up hope for a bowl game. 

For ASU hopefuls to lose faith, the Sun Devils would need to blow a gift-wrapped win against OSU, a Beavers’ team showcasing a defense that was allowing teams to drop nearly 40 points a game prior to Saturday. 

To go along with 40 points a game, opposing teams have yielded 20 rushing and 24 passing touchdowns on the season.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall

Three top-10 teams took a beating on Saturday. The No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs (9-1, 6-1), the No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-2) and the No. 6 TCU Horned Frogs (8-2, 5-2) all lost by double-digits. 

With respect to these programs, it should be noted that they all lost to other top-10 teams. 

The No. 10 Auburn Tigers (8-2, 6-1) dropped 40 on the clearly overrated Bulldogs' defense

Remaining undefeated, the No. 7 Miami Hurricanes (9-0, 6-0) forced four turnovers in a blowout victory over the Fighting Irish

To top it off, the No. 5 Oklahoma Sooners (9-1, 6-1) kept relying on the arm of their NFL-prospect senior quarterback, Baker Mayfield, who threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns. 

Following these wins, expect all three teams to shoot up the rankings, with the Sooners and Hurricanes likely clinging to a top-four spot. 

As for the Tigers, they'll probably sit at No. 6 or No. 7, but a win in their game against the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (10-0, 7-0) on Nov. 24 will make the difference in Auburn's pursuit of playoff berth.

UA’s Khalil Tate takes OSU for a ride

In UA’s 49-28 (7-3, 5-2) victory over the Beavers, it was none other than the Wildcats’ sophomore quarterback Khalil Tate who continues to be Tucson’s greatest attraction.

Tate rushed for 206 yards and two scores, which was only his third-most rushing yards in a game this season. His versatility on the ground is impressive, but Tate’s five completions on Saturday is telling. 

The lesson to be taken away from UA’s win is that the Wildcats are a one-dimensional offense and they’re inviting teams to contain them, but few have found success.

As Tate proves to strictly proceed as a running back, his passing numbers are lackluster.

The Wildcats’ lead gunslinger hasn’t completed more than 14 passes in a game this season.

Yet, it doesn’t affect a Wildcat offense that has scored 45 or more points in five of their last six games. Two weeks till the Territorial Cup, ASU fans might want to pray to the football gods that Tate decides to play a quarterback and not the workhorse running back he’s turned in to. 


Reach the reporter at atotri@asu.edu or follow @Anthony_Totri on Twitter.   

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