ASU (5-3) vs Oregon (2-5)
Friday, October 29th // Eugene, OR // 2:00pm PST // PAC-12 Net
Why Oregon could BEAT ASU
Arizona State is by far the worst offense Oregon has played since their last win, a 44-26 victory over Virginia on September 10. The Sun Devils have just eight passing touchdowns this season and average less than four yards per rush attempt. They have been downright terrible on the road, almost losing to Texas-San Antonio, and getting blown out by USC and Colorado. The defensive stats say they’re the best team in the Pac-12 vs. the run, but that could just be a product of playing three air raid offenses, since they gave up 300+ at Colorado just two weeks ago. There’s a good chance that ASU’s QB will be a freshman making his first start, and even if their usual starter, Manny Wilkins, is healthy enough to play, he has thrown five interceptions in the six full games he has played.
Justin Herbert should have plenty of opportunities through the air, as ASU surrenders 386 yards per game via the pass. It’s tempting to chalk that up to Texas Tech, WSU, and Cal inflating those numbers with their air raid attacks, but USC and UCLA posted 366 and 444 yards, respectively.
ASU may be a team in the P12 in as much disarray as the Ducks. Oregon may have found a QB. We certainly found one who cares a lot about his team. We found one with some real skills once he settled down and quit trying to force it and let the game come to him. Oregon can run with anyone, even with a hurt Royce.
Arizona State comes into this game ranked dead last in the FBS in pass defense. That isn’t just by a little either, it’s by nearly 700 more yards allowed than the next worse team ahead of them. If Herbert can have another Cal-esque showing, this SHOULD be a victory for Oregon in a season almost absent of them. A healthy Royce Freeman would be great, but Tony Brooks-James isn’t exactly a slouch in the backfield lately. If Oregon can get into a rhythm passing, mixed in with some breakout runs, this could look like the old Oregon offense.
Because for some reason the Vegas sports books say we’re supposed to. We have Justin Herbert, who is averaging 4.5 TD passes per start. Which means that next year he will throw for an NCAA record 67.5 TDs over the 15 games the Ducks play in. Clear out your trophy case Justin and reinforce it because the Heisman is surprisingly heavy.
Seriously, we can win this game. The offense needs to do what they did against Cal, but start doing it earlier and with Royce Freeman playing better. The Ducks have failed to get a touchdown on their opening drive in 11 straight games. This needs to change, and a quick start would bode well for the Ducks. Arizona State is dealing with injuries, and they have looked suspect on both offense and defense.
2017’s Dynamic Duos. Killer Quartet? I don’t know — we’ve got plenty of time to give them a snazzy nickname.
The offensive one-two punch of QB Justin Herbert and RB Tony Brooks-James is starting to click. TBJ has had a few years to grow, and as has been tradition for Oregon backs (think LeGarette Blount and LaMike James), the loss of RB1 often gives RB2 a chance to shine when thrust into the spotlight. Herbert, on the other hand, is maturing before our very eyes. Tying the school record for passing touchdowns in a game — in his first road start and second game ever — is no joke, even if it was against the Swiss cheese that Cal calls a defense.
Those two are aided by defensive heavy-hitters LB Troy Dye and S Brenden Schooler, who provide a formidable tag-team in the middle of the field. They happen to hold the distinction of being the only freshman tandem to lead their team in tackles.
This is a team on the rise (give us a break; the learning curve on the hill of youth turned out to be WAY steeper — and longer — than anyone expected). Expect them to use the positive momentum and disappointment of the Cal game as a springboard to attack a struggling ASU squad.
It is time. It is past time. I don’t think the players will deliver another loss. I think they showed they can come together in the 2nd half of Cal. I think Herbert found his grove and will be more comfortable playing at home then he was during UW I think even if the team is still at odds, as Athletes they don’t want to be completely humiliated with a 6th straight loss.
If the offense keeps on being aggressive, and we have good production from whoever is at RB we have a chance to convert on 3rd down. The defense will have to get some timely turnovers and stop the frequency of opposing teams getting plays of over 10yds. Basically do something they haven’t been able to do all year to this point.
Why Oregon could LOSE to ASU
Why Oregon Could Lose to ASU: Even if Arizona State’s QB struggles throwing the ball, Oregon still stinks at stopping the run, giving up nearly 250 yards per game. Last week vs. WSU, the Sun Devils ran a lot of wildcat formation after Wilkins went out, and even though his replacement, Dillon Sterling-Cole, wasn’t very good through the air last week (7-for-16 for 86 yards), everyone looks better when they face Oregon’s defense.
When Oregon has the ball, Justin Herbert should expect to see something he hasn’t seen much of this season: the blitz. Oregon coaches said this week that Herbert has only been blitzed four times in two starts; ASU should eclipse that number in the first quarter on Saturday. For example, when ASU played Cal and QB Davis Webb, they blitzed on 41% of Cal’s offensive plays. Webb is a senior, Herbert is a freshman. If ASU’s blitzing scheme confuses or rattles Herbert, it will be a long day for the Ducks.
Defense. Bad coaching. Defense. Penalties. Defense. Players giving up. Defense. Defense. ASU stealing signs. Defense. Looking ahead to every team’s super bowl next week against USC. Did I mention defense?
Arizona State is giving up just 99.9ypg on the ground so far this season. For everything they lack in covering the pass, they make up for it in rush defense. They also rank in the Top 30 in sacks & Top 20 in Tackles For Loss. Their overall defense ranks one spot higher than Cal’s, whereas Oregon, yup, they’re dead fu*king last. This may not mean much, but if Oregon can’t take advantage of ASU’s weaknesses, this could end up being a *gulp* 6th consecutive loss.
Our defense is, statistically, the worst defense in the country. Every MAC and Sun Belt team is fielding a better defense. There may very well be Big Sky teams who would regularly fare better against the teams we’ve faced. If our defense doesn’t play better then it will become another sad Saturday, and the rainy drive back up I-5 will be sad.
The Sun Devil defense is aggressive, they have some good pass rushers. That could cause problems for our young future Heisman winner. Arizona State QB Manny Wilkins may be out for the game, but keep in mind that they put up 68 points on Texas Tech. The litmus test for the worst defense in power-5 college football, if we hold them to 67 or fewer than we can say we have a better defense than Texas Tech.
The coaches told us that Royce Freeman looked good in practice, and that he had recovered 100% from injuries suffered against Nebraska and Washington. In the infamous words of DJ Khaled: you played yourself. Or in this case, you played yourselves, and all of us.
It was clear that against Cal, Freeman was but a shell of the explosive mix of power and speed we all know and love. Despite Brooks-James’ emergence, Freeman is what Mr. Khaled calls a “Major Key.” With a healthy Freeman, Oregon had a chance to weather the Sharknado of injuries suffered by key players. Without Freeman, it’s clear we need to head towards the nearest storm shelter ASAP, because this one could get ugly. Given the nature of ASU’s defense, I sure hope Justin Herbert isn’t afraid of sharks.
Broken Record here but this season is this season. Injuries, penalties and questionable play calling.
It wont take an extra ordinary performance by ASU to win, but teams tend to get greedy and change up what is making them successful, look at Cal last week… they had the game won and let the Ducks back int the game in the 3rd Quarter. ASU naturally likes to blitz and pressure the QB, if they can repress their desire for the big play they can grind out a win against the M.A.S.H. unit of the Duck defense.
Prediction: Oregon again can’t stop the run, Herbert looks like a freshman vs. the ASU blitz, and the Devils steal one with a late field goal, 30-28.
ASU 45 Oregon 37
Oregon comes out slinging the ball, as they should. Herbiota puts up a stat line somewhere around 32/56 381yds 5 TD’s 2 INT’s. The ground game doesn’t quite get it moving, ending up around 110yds for the game. But this game hangs in the balance based on which Oregon defense shows up. The one from every game so far this year, minus the 2nd half vs Cal? Or the 2nd half defense from Cal? My gut tells me it’s the defense we’ve seen the majority of the season. Oregon can’t manage to get enough 3 and outs to pull away, leaving ASU in the game until late. Maybe Oregon shows heart, but losing is losing, regardless if you try hard (Remember, Oregon fans used to bash on OSU for losing but trying hard. Moral victories don’t count in the win column & they damn sure don’t make you bowl eligible. HIP HIP!). Arizona State 53, Oregon 51 in another close but no cigar game. *Dear Lord Baby Jesus, let me be wrong about this*
Oregon wins, 68-66. The Duck prevail after blocking an Arizona State field goal attempt with 1 second left. The teams combine for 1,700 yards of offense. It will be an instant classic.
Despite everything, I’m feeling strangely bullish about this one. 42-35 Oregon.
Oregon 30, ASU 21
Oregon loses. 42-38