Is ASU the classic trap game?

ARIZONA STATE WAS picked by the league's beat writers in the annual media poll just before the '08 season began to finish 2nd in the Pac-10. Most other pundits, such as ESPN's Ted Miller, picked ASU to finish third. Currently, the Sun Devils are riding a five game losing streak and they're mired in 8th place (2-5 overall, 1-3 Pac-10) in the league. But that has Mike Riley all the more wary.

One one hand, you look at Oregon State playing at home, a double digit favorite, and you have to like your chances if you're a Beaver fan.

Only a little over three weeks ago, ASU was undefeated in Pac-10 play. And the Beaver Nation, coming off the storied win over USC, began looking ahead and projecting. One game that caught their eye was this Saturday's matchup -- it was certainly reasonable to think it could go a long ways towards deciding how the race for the Pac-10 crown would play out.

ASU hasn't won a game since, dropping three straight to Cal, USC and Oregon.

The latter, a 54-20 drubbing at the hands of the Ducks, was a game Sun Devils' coach Dennis Erickson called "very embarrassing."

But Riley said Tuesday he doesn't see ASU's struggles as much of an advantage. He instead sees a very capable ASU squad ready to come out swinging and wanting to lash out at the next team they face, the Beavs.

"It's a dangerous team and a dangerous game that way -- this is a team that had high expectations and have played some very tough teams in this stretch with Georgia and USC and Oregon," said Riley.

The Sun Devils' defense is, he said, also cause for concern -- regardless of what the box scores and scoreboards have said of late.

"I've seen them play a ton of good defense in those ball games, particularly against USC and Georgia. And I thought they did a nice job in big portions of the games. I expect a very tough game and a team that will be fighting hard," said Riley.

IF ARIZONA STATE is able to pull off the upset in Corvallis on Saturday, there's little doubt the media will opine that Oregon State was looking past the Sun Devils, that they were thinking about a rosy path to Pasadena rather than focusing on the game at hand.

It has, after all, been oft-talked about in the local and national media, and across cyberspace, and even since before Oregon State controlled their own destiny.

So are the Beavs talking about the big picture with five games left in the regular season? Is that something Riley is talking about in the locker room with the guys in black and orange.

Not the case.

"I think it's out there and (so) it's part of our world, and I guess I don't care about that. But we certainly in-house only talk about Arizona State right now...you start focusing on those things that are way down the road and you lose focus on what's really important, and that's winning.

"If you lose, then that pulls the rug out from that," said Riley.

As usual, for most of the Beaver Nation in the early part of the week, Saturday just can't get here fast enough.

NOTABLE TV NOTES:
  • Saturday's game against ASU is scheduled for a 7:15 pm PT start on FSN. The game will be broadcast in HD.

  • The UCLA game on Nov. 8 will be shown on Fox Sports Northwest -- whether you get it live or tape delayed depends on where you live.

    Stay with us here...In the Oregon/SW Washington market, Beaver fans will see Oregon State vs. UCLA (3 p.m. kickoff) joined in progress, estimated at 4pm, at the conclusion of the Oregon-Stanford game, which kicks off at 12:30 pm. At the conclusion of OSU-UCLA, the Oregon/SW Washington market joins in progress the UW-ASU game, slated for a 4 p.m. start.

    OSU fans throughout the rest of FSN's Northwest territory will see the OSU-UCLA game on tape delay, in its entirety, starting at 7:30 p.m. So, viewers in these markets will see UO-Stanford at 12:30 pm, UW-ASU at 4 p.m., followed by the 7:30 pm tape delayed broadcast of Oregon State-UCLA.

    Confused? Super, then our work here is done.

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