Even though the national spotlight has gone, the pressure hasn't for the Oregon State football team.
The Beavers fell out of the top-25 rankings after a loss to No. 3 Boise State last Saturday, and ESPN's College GameDay crew will move on to Eugene this weekend for the showdown between undefeated Oregon and Stanford.
OSU's opponent this Saturday, Arizona State, doesn't have the same luster for national TV as the Broncos or Texas Christian, who the Beavers faced in the season opener. The Beavers open Pacific-10 Conference play against the Sun Devils at 3:30 p.m. in Reser Stadium.
OSU (1-2) is off to its usual slow start with losses to highly ranked Texas Christian and Boise State. The win over rebuilding Louisville was underwhelming.
"What we can do with this is learn from it and get ready for the Pac-10 Conference and Arizona State," linebacker Dwight Roberson said of the challenging early schedule.
Coach Mike Riley looks at the nonconference games as preparation for the Pac-10. However, the Beavers haven't shown him what he wants, and here come the Sun Devils (2-2, 0-1).
The Beavers will either be battle-tested and ready for ASU or worn down.
Evidence of being worn down can be seen in the injuries. Roberson is considered out for Saturday's game with a knee sprain and receiver James Rodgers is questionable as he recovers from a mild concussion.
"This was very good preparation for that," Riley said of the nonconference schedule. "We lost two games and that's never good. The level of competition was the level of competition we'll see in our conference."
ASU wasn't considered a contender for the conference title before the season, but made last Saturday's game against Pac-10 favorite and fourth-ranked Oregon interesting in an 11-point loss.
ASU has wins over lower division teams Portland State and Northern Arizona. The other loss was 20-19 at Wisconsin.
"I know they have a good defense," Riley said. "I've watched them against Wisconsin. They are very physical and fast on defense. We have to be able to handle their front. The secondary looks athletic."
The Beavers will be challenged by ASU's defense. They have yet to establish their running game and quarterback Ryan Katz is still developing. His completion percentage is only 46.8.
Running back Jacquizz Rodgers entered the season with an average of 112.2 yards a game. He's at 84.3 through three games this season.
"We have to run the ball better, and we have to get more plays," Riley said. "We were in the 50s again (against Boise State). That's not good. We have to be more productive. What we've done wasn't enough to win two games."
ASU's passing game leads the Pac-10 at 325.8 yards a game and should give OSU problems. The Beavers have failed to put pressure on the quarterback and have just two sacks.
Riley is concerned over the lack of a pass rush and wants extra coverage time from a veteran secondary. Overall, he wants the group to be more disruptive.
"Now it appears they balanced that team out with a good offense," Riley said of ASU. "That's a good football team."
Riley maintains the Beavers are close to a breakthrough, if players learn the details and execute better. The Beavers plan to continue their development this week and hope it happens soon.
The Sun Devils are in a similar situation, which makes the game crucial for both teams as they want to get their early Pac-10 seasons going.
"My goal this week is we learn more about that (execution)," Riley said. "We'll get better about that next week. Hopefully, that will be enough to win the game. And that will provide the difference."
The Oct. 9 game at Arizona will kick off at 4 p.m. and be broadcast nationally on Versus (32). ... Arizona State LB Vontaze Burfict, WR George Bell and DL Lawrence Bell suffered leg injuries against Oregon on Saturday and are questionable.