CORVALLIS, Ore. - Keith Jackson, come on down!
Arizona State and Southern California each did their parts to give ABC’s top college football voice a matchup worthy of a "Whoa, Nelly!" by kicking off the Pac-10 portions of their schedules with wins Saturday.
The 18th-ranked Sun Devils defeated Oregon State, 42-24, before 41,374 fans Saturday night at the Beavers’ Reser Stadium just hours after the top-ranked Trojans downed Oregon, 45-13, about 30 miles down Interstate 5 in Eugene.
Those results set up ASU’s biggest game since last year’s meeting with USC, which the Trojans won 45-7 in Los Angeles to hand the Sun Devils their first loss of the season.
ASU’s path to victory Saturday was atypical of a team that possessed the second most productive offense in the country going into the game.
Matching up against the conference’s worst defense, the Sun Devils’ offensive playmakers seemed a lock to monopolize the highlight reel as usual. However, it was the Sun Devil defense that turned in the biggest plays early on.
The Beavers advanced inside the 40-yard line five times in their first nine possessions and came away with just three points.
Linebacker Dale Robinson sacked OSU quarterback Matt Moore on a third-down play to force a punt and DeWayne Hollyfield sacked Moore on the next series, which contributed to Alexis Serna’s errant 46-yard field-goal attempt, which came up short.
Those were just two of seven sacks for the ASU defense, which also forced six turnovers in the game.
Linebacker Jamar Williams wiped out a third scoring chance when he picked off Moore’s pass at the 16. Then just before halftime, the ASU defense held the Beavers out of the end zone on three snaps inside the 20 to force them to settle for a field goal.
OSU threatened on its first series of the second half, but Williams and Keno Walter-White jarred the ball loose from Dan Haines and Zach Catanese recovered at the 30.
By the time the Beavers finally reached the end zone for the first time midway through the third quarter, they were in a double-digit hole. And the Sun Devils were just about to start pouring it on.
ASU quarterback Sam Keller struggled early in the first road start of his career. However, once he got through an 8-for-17 first half, he returned to form.
After leading his squad to just two scores in the first 30 minutes Saturday, Keller passed the Sun Devils down the field and into the end zone at will after the break.
He shrugged off repeated hits that left him limping between plays to complete 19-of-36 passes for 365 yards with no interceptions. His main target as always was Derek Hagan, who tied his career high with 11 catches and established a new career mark with 193 yards in the contest.
Keller threw a pair of touchdown passes to Hagan and tossed one each to Rudy Burgess and Matt Miller. Burgess and Keegan Herring added a rushing touchdown apiece as ASU surpassed its previous high mark of 182 points through the first four games of 2001.
The tally thus far this season: 188 points in four games, with one enormous game on the horizon.