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Beavers to face high-powered Arizona State

CORVALLIS — Oregon State has gone up against some good offensive teams this season.

The Beavers are coming off games against two in California and Washington State.

Tonight, the Beavers just might be taking on the best in Arizona State.

“I’d say right at this point in time it’s probably the best offense we’ve faced overall,” OSU defensive coordinator Mark Banker said. “They’re solid across the board. The O-line is solid, obviously the quarterback play is solid, skill receivers.

“And then when they get tired of pounding it inside or giving it to D.J. Foster and you’re chasing him around, they just go one-on-one outside with Jaelen Strong.

“So we’ve got our hands full, there’s no doubt about that.”

Foster is a versatile running back who is equally dangerous in the running and passing game.

Foster has 821 yards and six touchdowns on the ground and has caught 39 passes for 462 yards and two scores.

Strong leads the Sun Devils with 62 catches for 879 yards and nine touchdowns.

They are both fast and dynamic in the open field, which will test an OSU defense that has struggled in recent games.

Quarterback Taylor Kelly runs the offense. In six games this season, Kelly has thrown for 1,234 yards and 12 touchdowns and run for 248 and three scores.

Kelly has missed some time with a foot injury and backup Mike Bercovici stepped in and threw for 1,322 yards and 10 touchdowns.

“Taylor Kelly, he’s a good quarterback and he knows how to utilize his weapons,” OSU linebacker Michael Doctor said.

“(Bercovici is) up there with Taylor Kelly, too. Great passer and can run a little bit, too.”

Defensively, the Sun Devils bring a lot of pressure.

They have 73 tackles for 327 lost yards and 27 sacks.

“They’re fast, physical and they blitz a lot,” OSU running back Terron Ward said. “They will bring heat every play, two at a time, three at a time. (They) try to exploit those weaknesses, so we’ve got to be ready for it.”

Marcus Hardison has six sacks and eight tackles for loss and Laiu Moeakiola has 8.5 tackles for loss and five sacks.

Salamo Fiso has 8.5 tackles for loss and Damarious Randall has 7.5.

“I think they’re a solid defense,” Ward said. “I don’t think there’s one guy that stands out particular, I think they’re all good and they all come with their A game.”

The key for OSU is to keep quarterback Sean Mannion upright and give him enough time to go through his reads.

“There’s a variety of ways to approach it,” Mannion said. “I don’t want to give away too much, but it’s something that they’ve shown over the years and they have done very successfully.

“You look at their team and they’re tough every year and it’s due in part to how successful they’ve been in bringing pressure.”

Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly, right, and running back D.J. Foster spearhead the Sun Devils' potent offense. AP PHOTO