September 26, 2004
After a month of football, Arizona State remains the talk of the Pac-10.
Meanwhile, Oregon State learned Saturday that just talk will only take you so far — and in some cases, right out of a football game.
After wall-papering Sun Devils bulletin boards with trash during the week, the Beavers had four quarters of scripted smack, not to mention a tad of inspired football, at the ready just in case ASU’s post-Iowa hangover lasted longer than one of Tom Arnold’s pre-rehab binges.
No such luck. After a first half that offered more adversity than the Devils had encountered in the first three weeks of the season combined, ASU’s defense slammed the door on Oregon State while quarterback Andrew Walter turned all the Beavers’ blather into empty words.
ASU 27, OSU 14. The Sun Devils are still undefeated and poised to join the Top 20?
Well, shut my mouth!
History tells us the Sun Devils are 4-0 for the first time since — wait for it — 1996, when Jake Plummer, Pat Tillman and company came within one defensive stop of a national championship. And while it might be too early to start shuffling New Year’s Day plans, ASU is a road trip to Oregon away from marching into Los Angeles unbeaten for a showdown with top-ranked USC.
And on the heels of 5-7, 5-0 would look mighty nice. Walter threw for only 124 yards but showed poise and smarts in the pocket all night and played mistake-free football. He again showed that he came back for a final college season as much to settle some scores as throw them. Walter likely won’t be
clutching a Heisman Trophy in two months, but he now has a stuffed Beaver to place next to his Hawkeye on the mantle.
And Duck hunting season begins in one week.
Oregon State quarterback Derek Anderson, meanwhile, completed the cycle when it came to turnovers — he threw two interceptions, botched an exchange with a running back and mishandled a center snap — as the Beavers coughed up the ball five times and were whistled for 103 yards in penalties, ranging from holding to, yes, yakking.
No surprise there. Despite having beaten ASU only twice in 24 previous meetings, Oregon State cornerback Brandon Browner came to Tempe expecting nothing less than a repeat of last year, when the Beavers rattled Walter into four interceptions and embarrassed ASU, 45-17.
"I think we can go down there and kick their butts again,’’ Browner told the Eugene Register-Guard. "With a lot of pressure, Andrew Walter gets nervous.’’
And with a point to prove, Walter is a dangerous man who finds ways to beat you.
He scrambled for 16 yards to set up the first touchdown. He got in the way of Browner (calling it a block would be stretching things) to spring Terry Richardson on a reverse for the second one, popping up from a hard hit to inform OSU’s loquacious lad of the latest scoring update.
"If they played as good as they talked, they would be 4-0,’’ Walter said afterward. "You can write that down for sure.’’
By the time Walter found the end zone the oldfashioned way, hitting freshman tight end Zach Miller wide open on ASU’s first drive of the third quarter, the Devils were up 24-7 and the drama was over.
That final touchdown, by the way, came after Oregon State safety Sabby Piscitelli made a wonderful play to bat away a Walter pass intended for ASU’s Derek Hagan — and then proceeded to stand over the prone receiver and taunt him as flags flew.
"We heard them talking, but we kept to ourselves,’’ said ASU defensive tackle Jordan Hill, who collected two of Oregon State’s three fumbles. "We wanted to let our play do the talking.’’
And with one month down, the Devils are giving everyone something to talk about.