ASU Football: Best, average and worst case scenarios against Oregon State

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 01: Quarterback Manny Wilkins #5 of the Arizona State Sun Devils makes a pass in the first half of the game against the UTSA Roadrunners at Sun Devil Stadium on September 1, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 01: Quarterback Manny Wilkins #5 of the Arizona State Sun Devils makes a pass in the first half of the game against the UTSA Roadrunners at Sun Devil Stadium on September 1, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /

ASU football returns to Tempe looking for their first Pac-12 victory against Oregon State. Here are three scenarios that could play out.

It’s said that home is where the heart is in this life.

For Arizona State, they hope a return home cures recent struggles and leads them to their first conference victory of the season.

After starting 2-0 with a No. 23 ranking, the Sun Devils have faded with back-to-back losses. Although the margins were slim, there have been issues plaguing ASU from exceeding their fast start.

The Sun Devils held the nation’s top run defense through the first two weeks while holding opponents to 32.5 rushing yards per game. Since, ASU has allowed 311 and 171 yards, respectively, in their two defeats to San Diego State and Washington.

Senior quarterback Manny Wilkins has posted respectable numbers through four games, but phases of inaccuracy have been the story. Last week, Wilkins completed only 17 of 27 passes for 104 yards and no touchdowns, missing shots down the field and routes with an open N’Keal Harry.

The Sun Devil ground game responded with a 164 yard performance against the Huskies, but a game has yet to occur where both offensive phases worked in conjunction. That may change against Oregon State.

The Beavers enter Saturday’s contest as one of the nation’s weakest defenses, giving up 43.5 points per game and over 500 yards of total offense. OSU makes up for the woes by seeking explosive plays on offense, but it hasn’t been enough to derail them from a 1-3 record.

There are no pushovers in college football. But if there were anything close to it, this would be the one. Let’s take a look at three scenarios that could play out when the Sun Devils face the Beavers.

Best Case Scenario: Back on track

The Sun Devils shake the frustrations of the previous two weeks, compiling a complete game to blow out the Beavers by more than three scores.

In the wake of comparisons against former ASU quarterbacks Blake Barnett, Brady White and Bryce Perkins, Wilkins reassures fans he’s the man for the job by throwing for over 320 yards and multiple touchdown tosses. Against a poor defense, he regains confidence by connecting deep shots and opening receptions for multiple receivers.

Eno Benjamin and Trelon Smith provide steady work out of the backfield, rushing over a combined 150 yards to help control time of possession. For the first time, we see the potential of a Rob Likens-led system in Tempe.

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The Sun Devil defense replicates their performances from weeks one and two by limiting the Beavers to under two scores. Defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales helps his team anticipate OSU’s deep targets, forcing interceptions and fumbles that turn into more ASU scoring drives.

By the night’s end, ASU is 1-1 in Pac-12 play with new hope for the coming stretch. With three of five games at home while facing four Pac-12 South Opponents, the Sun Devils are ready to compete for a divisional title.

Average Case Scenario: Too close for comfort

The Sun Devils escape a pesky Oregon State team, using late scores in the fourth quarter to extend a lead that didn’t tell the story of the game.

Up until the third quarter, the Sun Devils are in an uphill battle to play at their own potential. We see Wilkins have errors in the passing game, miscommunications on routes and a plethora of drives that end in a self-inflicted manner.

ASU’s talent makes up for the lulls, however, as Harry responds with a big game and Wilkins connects a pass or two to Frank Darby or Kyle Williams to keep the Sun Devils close.

Beaver quarterback Conor Blount keeps the Beavers in front by connecting on third down and setting up long scores, but his magic wears out when ASU’s front seven forces a turnover with the Sun Devils in the lead. ASU scores, and the game is suddenly over.

This type of game would indicate that ASU has problems they may not be able to correct. With four divisional games coming up, that’s not a good sign moving forward.

Worst Case Scenario: Panic mode

The Sun Devils set a bad precedent for the rest of the season by falling to Oregon State at home, dropping their record to 2-3 and their Pac-12 mark to 0-2.

Everything imaginable goes wrong. Derailed by two consecutive losses on the road, ASU falls into the “trap game,” turning the ball over on offense and missing tackles and opportunities on defense. The Beavers take a double-digit lead into halftime, forcing ASU to play with desperation for the remainder of the game.

There are moments of hope, as the Sun Devils break open with a huge touchdown to bring the game within a single score in the fourth quarter. But it’s not enough. The Beavers milk the clock and force ASU into a time game, handing the Sun Devils their third straight loss in heartbreaking fashion.

At this point, it’s safe to question what this team is made of. How would they be expected to compete for a divisional title if they couldn’t win perhaps the most winnable game of the season? There’d have to be some answers, and they’d have to come quick.

dark. Next. ASU Football: Sun Devils return home, host 1-3 Beavers

For the sake of panic, it’s best to hope this case doesn’t come remotely close to happening.