The Sun Devils and Ducks collide on Saturday with both unbeaten in Pac-12 play. Can Arizona State stand up to the Ducks’ offense? Will Oregon struggle without a healthy LaMichael James? Al Dannity answers these questions and more in his breakdown of this vital game for both programs.
Still about the national title No really, it is. The Ducks and Sun Devils need an awful lot to happen to get back in the BCS title picture but don’t rule out a one-loss Pac-12 from making it to New Orleans just yet. No matter what happens in Eugene, both teams will still control their paths to the Rose Bowl after this game. A loss however, even one avenged in the Pac-12 title game, would destroy any lingering BCS Championship dreams for either team. That means neither of these programs will be satisfied with less than a victory on Saturday night.
It’s not all about LaMichael James Oregon’s star tailback is questionable for this game, having broken 200 yards rushing in each of his last three outings. James however was kept in check by the Sun Devils last year and Oregon still managed a double-digit road win. With more veteran talent to hand in 2011, there’s reason to be confident in Chip Kelly’s offense even if their greatest weapon is unavailable. Darron Thomas and De’Anthony Thomas have both acquitted themselves well and there are enough weapons at Oregon’s disposal to keep the visitors guessing throughout the game.
Arizona State will arrive in Eugene with some confidence, having rolled to a 3-0 start in conference play. They haven’t faced a test quite like the Ducks yet and Brock Osweiler will need to put in the performance of his life to keep the Sun Devils in this shootout.
The verdict This is a solid Arizona State team, one that should do enough to win the Pac-12 South and play for the conference title. Being the best in their division however does not equate to rating the Sun Devils in the same class as the Ducks. Ever since that opening weekend loss to LSU, a team which we now know to be a leading BCS title contender, the Ducks have wiped the floor with all before them. This conference is going to be decided by who comes out on top between Oregon and Stanford. The Sun Devils, while enjoyable, are just a side dish. I like the Ducks to win as -16.0 favorites with Sports Interaction.