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Arizona State Sun Devils
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Much at stake for Sun Devils, Graham

Coming off a humbling 44-37 loss last week at UCLA, a game in which Arizona State blew a two-touchdown lead, coach Todd Graham continues to place a positive spin on his program.

The Sun Devils (5-5, 4-3 Pac-12) are not only playing to become bowl eligible but also to avoid Graham's third consecutive losing season in Tempe. A victory at Oregon State (1-9, 0-7) on Saturday will make ASU bowl eligible and guarantee at least a .500 record in the regular season.

Another losing record with an embarrassing loss to conference cellar-dweller Oregon State could fuel more talk about Graham being on the hot seat.

Arizona State appeared to be on a roll, especially on defense with consecutive wins over Washington (10-7 final score) and Utah (30-10), but the Sun Devils have lost two out of the last three games to USC and UCLA and have allowed an average of 40.7 points in that span.

"Our guys are focused on getting the next win, getting bowl-eligible," Graham said in his weekly Monday press conference. "Our guys, they put a lot into this. These guys have been a great group to coach and work with.

"I think they're focused on right now their thought process is on the seniors and win this next game and getting bowl-eligible. That's it."

A priority for Graham and his coaching staff is limiting big plays in the last two games of the regular season against Oregon State and rival Arizona.

In last week's loss, UCLA produced 13 plays of 15 yards or more, two resulting in touchdowns.

The Sun Devils' offense also wasted three possessions inside the Bruin 10-yard line in the second half, all of which ended in field goals by freshman Brandon Ruiz.

"It was a close game, a one score game, but the difference really was us kicking three field goals," Graham said. "That's 12 points if those are touchdowns instead and we missed a field goal and the interception for a touchdown (thrown by ASU quarterback Manny Wilkins in the first quarter).

"I think that's 22 points. There is a lot of hidden things like that but our guys, I'll tell you, they played extremely hard. I thought we did a lot of good things right. Our guys gave great effort, showed great heart. We just made too many mistakes."


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