In their final game of the regular season, the Oregon State Beavers will be facing off against the 1-2 Arizona State Sun Devils, a team short on experience, but not on talent.
Like many teams throughout the PAC-12 conference, as well as across the country, Arizona State struggled with game cancelations for a large part of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 protocols. After losing their first scheduled game of the year on Nov. 7, the Sun Devils’ next three matches were canceled, and the team was unable to play again until Dec. 5.
But, despite a losing record and level of inexperience compared to the Beavers’ six games in 2020, Arizona State will be entering their game against Oregon State on a high note. After falling to 0-2 after close losses to USC and UCLA, the Sun Devils managed to bounce back in their third game, defeating their rival Arizona Wildcats 70-7 on the road.
The Beavers, meanwhile, will be closing out their regular season looking to break a bit of a backslide. After pulling off two straight wins in the middle of the season, Oregon State has taken a step back, losing their last two in one-score games against Utah and Stanford.
In order for the Beavers to end their regular season with a win and improve their record to 3-4, they will need to be able to keep pace with a Sun Devils offense coming off the highest scoring performance of any PAC-12 team in 2020. For that, Oregon State will need to see continued development from Chance Nolan, the redshirt sophomore quarterback who has been pressed into the starting job since Tristan Gebbia suffered a season-ending injury against the Oregon Ducks in Week 4.
Nolan took a step forward in his game last week against the Stanford Cardinal. After throwing for 202 yards on 20/38 passing the week before against the Utah Utes, Nolan completed a higher percentage of his throws, passed for more yards, and ended the night with three touchdown throws to no interceptions.
But against an Arizona State offense that has allowed no more than 28 points in each of its three games, Nolan might be in line for his toughest task yet. High-level play from Nolan’s supporting cast will be crucial as well. Tyjon Lindsey, the redshirt junior receiver coming off a career-high two-touchdown game against the Cardinal, could be a key player for the Beavers, as well as a safety net for Nolan, who will be starting in just the first game of his Oregon State career.
Whether Nolan can get his first win as the Beavers starting quarterback and help bring his team to 3-4 will be decided on Dec. 19 at 7:30 p.m.