No. 19 Arizona State took advantage of four Sean Mannion interceptions and survived two picks of its own to beat Oregon State, 30-17, in Tempe on Saturday night.
With the win, ASU improves to 8-2 and 6-1 in conference, while the Beavers fall to 6-4 and 4-3.
The Sun Devils raced out to a 20-0 lead thanks to three rushing touchdowns, two by Marion Grice and one by D.J. Foster. Until Trevor Romaine’s 22-yard field goal to end the first half, the Beavers had just 95 yards of total offense, two crucial turnovers and no points.
Things didn’t get much better in the second half for OSU. The Beavers’ first two possessions in the third quarter resulted in a pick and 28 net yards and the game seemed out of reach for OSU. However, the Beavers did cut the lead to 20-10 late in the quarter thanks to a 96-yard drive that culminated in a six-yard touchdown pass from Mannion to Caleb Smith. Another drive resulted in a 48-yard field goal attempt by Romaine that was blocked. ASU then drove 56 yards for a field goal to make it 23-10 in favor of the Sun Devils with 5:16 to play.
That’s when Mannion threw his fourth pick, but this time it was returned 23 yards for a touchdown by Robert Nelson and the game was basically on ice. Mannion later hit Connor Hamlett for a 29-yard score, but it was not enough for the Beavers.
Grice finished with a game-high 118 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. Mannion got his yards — 320 of them and two touchdowns — but he also threw the four picks.
Arizona State’s fifth-straight win sets up a huge game against UCLA next week for control of the Pac-12 South. If ASU beats the Bruins, it will clinch the division title and punch its ticket to the Pac-12 title game against, most likely, Oregon on Dec. 7 in Eugene. Good luck!