Fork Report: ASU defense stifles high-flying Beavers in win
The conference's No. 1 passing defense intercepted Beavers quarterback Sean Mannion four times, including two picks by Robert Nelson. Mannion has been intercepted eight times in his past two trips to Tempe, though Oregon State entered Saturday's game with the top passing offense in the conference and the No. 2 air attack in the country.
Offensively, Marion Grice rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns, ending a two-game scoreless streak for the nation's leading scorer. He topped the century mark on the ground for the second straight game and third time in ASU's last four games.
Jaelen Strong, his ankle finally healthy, caught seven passes for 106 yard. It was his sixth 100-yard receiving game of the season.
ASU won its fifth straight, the team's longest winning streak since 2007.
The Sun Devils have forced at least one turnover in 24 straight games, the third-longest streak in the nation.
DJ Foster scored his first rushing touchdown on his 35th rushing attempt of the season.
Alex Garoutte's second punt of the third quarter went a season-long 55 yards.
Zane Gonzalez made his 14th straight field goal and 18th overall.
For the third time this season, Taylor Kelly threw two interceptions. The picks came on back-to-back possessions in the first quarter; however, neither turnover was converted into points by Oregon State. Kelly's previous two-interception games came against Stanford and Notre Dame, both losses.
Late in the second quarter, Carl Bradford was called offsides as Oregon State lined up to go for it on fourth-and-five at the ASU 34. The penalty, one of only five against the Sun Devils, gave the Beavers an automatic first down on a drive that ended with a field goal. Bradford spent much of the second half on the sideline after a verbal altercation with Graham on ASU's sideline. Asked after the game about his starting linebacker, head coach Todd Graham said, "His condition is fine. We just took him out."
WHEN IT WAS OVER
Robert Nelson sealed the victory for the Sun Devils with his second interception of the game. He picked off Mannion and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown, the third pick-six by the ASU defense this season, making the score 30-10 with 5:25 remaining in the fourth quarter.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Marion Grice. With his two first half scores, Grice became only the third Sun Devil to record 20 touchdowns in a season, joining Terry Battle (20 in 1996) and Wilford "Whizzer" White (22 in 1950). Grice is just the 15th Pac-10/12 player to notch 20 touchdowns in the past 36 seasons.
Robert Nelson. With his two interceptions, Nelson now has a team-high six on the season. He has five interceptions in the past five games.
Representatives from five different bowl games (Rose, Alamo, Holiday, Sun and Las Vegas) and four different NFL teams (Bills, Chargers, Jets, Titans) were in attendance. The Rose Bowl and Sun Bowl each sent two people.
Former Sun Devil Curley Culp was honored at halftime. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August.
HE SAID IT
"We're playing championship level defense," Graham said. "Everything that we've worked for is on the line this week. We're 60 minutes away and one win away from clinching the South"
The Sun Devils (8-2, 6-1) make their final regular season road trip. ASU visits UCLA (8-2, 5-2) on Saturday, though the start time hasn't yet been announced. Regardless of when kickoff is pregame coverage will begin two hours prior on the Sun Devils' flagship station Arizona Sports 620.
Craig Grialou, Reporter
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