It's simple now, really. Even as a journalist who took his last math class 5 1/2 years ago, I can put the numbers together.
Four games left. Four wins needed to get bowl eligible.
The worst part about this one was the marked, drastic improvement of the Arizona State Sun Devils performance across the board in their 27-25 loss at Oregon State tonight.
This was, by an extremely wide margin, the Devils' best effort of the season. I'm serious. The only problem was that this tremendous effort was only present on about 90% of the plays at Reser Stadium.
On the other 10%, ASU looked like the same-old-sorry-ass Sun Devils.
Yet on a day where wild finishes and upsets were the norm across the board, our Devils almost pulled off a miracle of their own.
Rudy Carpenter deserves a lot of credit for his performance tonight, regardless of his less-than-stellar numbers. On the day that RC took over as America's College Ironman at QB (Curtis Painter didn't start for Purdue today, in case you missed it), Rudy kept ASU afloat early in the game when, as usual, his running backs couldn't move the ball. He started 7-of-10 and kept his offense moving, albeit slowly, and kept the game close through the first 25 minutes.
RC came up with a VERY gutty effort today. The calls were going mostly against ASU (that gripe coming in a later post), his receivers were well covered and defended all night and he had to fight his own offensive line jumping the snap count pretty much every other play. However, that final drive, he was able to keep it all together and at least put the Devils in a position to tie the game.
Then, of course, he waited too long to pull the trigger on the 2-point conversion.
However, it seems as if Dennis Erickson and Rich Olson are set on running between the tackles until it works. Here's the funny thing though: it actually almost worked. Shaun DeWitty remarkably got free for 111 yards on 16 carries, a mindblowing (for him) 6.9 YPC. The bad news is that DeWitty's runs came at times where they were less than opportune. None of the dashes were considerably clutch or at times when the Devils needed him to break a big one.
On another bright side, Dimitri Nance touched the ball once and didn't fumble. Good for him!
The offensive line...guh. Not much to say here. You all saw it. Three drives, including the first two of the game, started with false start penalties...basically canceling any sort of momentum before the drive even started. I'm sure it was loud and rowdy at Reser Stadium tonight, but that was ridiculous. I'll have to go back and look, but I'm pretty sure every member of the offensive line jumped at some point, and that includes Andrew Pettes. The difference between the line and Pettes is that he redeemed himself on the same drive by grabbing the TD that led to the potentially tying two-point conversion. The bad news is that the rest of the guys up front did their best impression of a colander as the Beavers D-line came through unchallenged on the roll out.
On the defensive side, it was another typical ASU effort. By that, I mean, they forced a tremendous pick six by Troy Nolan. Unfortunately, it was the only turnover forced throughout the game.
Tackling wise, it was all or nothing. Either the Devils got to Jacquizz Rodgers immediately at the line or he stomped all over the Devils front seven. Quizz joins Frank Summers, Knowshon Moreno and Joe McKnight as RB's that have cracked 130 on the ground against the Sun Devils. For the most part, the diminutive freshman ran roughshod over the Sun Devils; at times, it took 3 or more ASU defenders to take him down.
The Sun Devils were able to take out starting QB/professional eater Lyle Moevao before the half. Unfortunately, that may have been a blessing in disguise for the Beavers. Backup Sean Canfield came in and ran the OSU offense like a charm, continually putting his offense in the right place at the right time. His mobility may have been what saved Oregon State on a few plays; Luis Vasquez and Lawrence Guy had really good games and were getting into the backfield all night.
All told, I can't say I was overly disappointed with the Devils effort tonight. They came out to play and kept it close with a far superior opponent who truly have the Rose Bowl in their sights. But it's games like this that teams with a senior quarterback and veterans on defense should pull out. That inability is what makes the Devils a poor football team in 2008.
I've got plenty of more analysis that I'll spread out through the weekend, including my first ever gripe about officiating. I really don't think I've ever posted on PFN about poor referee work, but this game was so terribly officiated that it deserves its own article.
I've also got some thoughts on that little skirmish on the OSU sidelines, and here's a warning: it's not complimentary toward our guys.