ASU (3-7) plays its last home game against No. 23 Oregon State (7-3). It's Senior Day and Homecoming for the Sun Devils, with 16 players playing in their final game at Sun Devil Stadium.
ASU squandered its opportunity for bowl eligibility with a 28-18 loss to Washington State last weekend. However, the Sun Devils have much to look forward to in their final two games.
Coach Shaun Aguano expressed the Sun Devils' motivation to win for the rest of the season comes from the seniors. He urged the rest of the team to perform alongside these seniors as it is their last time in the maroon and gold uniform.
"We ain't tryna lose our last game here," ASU graduate student defensive lineman Nesta Jade Silvera said. "It's the last game in our home stadium, and we just wanna win."
Oregon State has had an antithetical season to ASU's tumultuous campaign as it has found plenty of success in a loaded Pac-12 conference with five other top-25 teams. The Beavers have won four out of their last five games with redshirt freshman quarterback Ben Gulbranson at the helm.
Gulbranson started the past five games for OSU after junior quarterback Chance Nolan suffered a neck injury against the University of Utah in early October. The freshman has passed for 1,042 yards and seven touchdowns with three interceptions this season.
"I think (Gulbranson) continues to get better and better," Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith said. "He's been pretty good with what we're asking him to do. He made some plays, took care of the ball, and has moved in the pocket well."
The Beavers are strong on defense and have an above-average rushing attack. They rank third in the Pac-12 with 21.6 points allowed per game compared to ASU's 30.8. OSU also ranks first in the conference in rushing defense, only allowing 107.1 yards per game on the ground. ASU sits at ninth, allowing 175.5.
The Oregon State offense focuses on the run, especially with the changes at quarterback this season. Freshman running back Damien Martinez leads a running-back room that ranks fourth in the conference in rushing yards per game with 190, while ASU sits at 130.8 in comparison.
"They have a tremendous running game," graduate student defensive back Khoury Bethley said. "It's going to be key to stop the run. They'll try to lull you to sleep with the run and then take play-action shots over the top, so we got to be dialed into our keys this week and play with great eyes."
ASU graduate student running back Xazavian Valladay is only 14 yards away from 1,000 rushing yards on the season after rushing for 134 yards on the ground against WSU last weekend. This would be Valladay's third and final season in college with over 1,000 rushing yards.
"They've allowed the fewest rushing yards. It's going to put a challenge on you," Valladay said. "I'm all up for them challenging me and me challenging them. Iron sharpens iron. We're going to go out there and put our best foot forward."
Redshirt junior quarterback Trenton Bourguet is expected to start this weekend after exiting in the second quarter last weekend with an apparent leg injury. Junior quarterback Emory Jones performed well in his backup role, passing for 186 yards and two touchdowns.
"I'll be ready to go," Bourguet said. "I tried to push through it last weekend, but the coaches decided to be smart about it and not try to risk it to be a further, more serious injury."
ASU enters its final home game as 9.5-point underdogs and will play in the Territorial Cup against UArizona next week to end the 2022 season.
Edited by Walker Smith, David Rodish and Luke Chatham.
Vincent Deangelis is a full-time reporter for the sports department at The State Press. He has previously worked for Arizona PBS and AZPreps365.com.