Leave it to the Stanford Cardinal to throw a wrench in Oregon's path to the Pac-10 title. The team that has caused the Ducks so many problems in the past once again handed them a big loss that they will have to recover from.
EUGENE, Ore. - Leave it to the Stanford Cardinal to throw a wrench in Oregon's path to the Pac-10 title. The team that has caused the Ducks so many problems in the past once again handed them a big loss that they will have to recover from.
In 1995 Oregon had dreams of returning to the Rose Bowl for a second consecutive year, but when Stanford came storming into Autzen Stadium and took down the Ducks 28-21 it wound up costing them the Pac-10 title.
Then came the 2001 season. The Cardinal blocked two punts in the fourth quarter to come storming back for a stunning 49-42 victory that snapped Oregon's 23-game winning steak at Autzen - the longest home winning streak in the country at that time. The Ducks still won the Pac-10 title outright that season, but the loss wound up costing them a shot at the national championship.
Now, after Stanford handed Oregon its first conference loss of the season, the Ducks once again have zero room for error as the final three games of the season approach.
The first of those comes against Arizona State on Saturday, a team that has struggled for most of the season.
The Sun Devils are riding a three game losing streak, and ASU fans will finally get their wish this week as Dennis Erickson has announced that he will give true freshman quarterback Brock Osweiler his first start, replacing senior Danny Sullivan.
Autzen Stadium is hardly the place for a young signal caller to get his first start (with the exception of Boise State's Kellen Moore), and especially against an Oregon defense that has something to prove after surrendering 51 points and 505 yards of offense to the Cardinal last week.
The Devils' offensive woes (8th in the Pac-10 in scoring offense at 24.1 ppg, 7th in rushing offense at 127 ypg, 8th in total offense at 353.8 ypg) have been offset a little bit by a stout defense. Stanford is the only team to crack the 30 point barrier (33) against ASU.
Arizona State is second in scoring defense (18.4 ppg) behind USC, and the Sun Devils lead the Pac-10 against the run (87.4 ypg) and in total defense (291.8).
Brian Elder - Of the final three games remaining for Oregon, this is without question the easiest one. ASU just can't seem to find a rhythm on offense, and it's not likely that Brock Osweiler will be the answer. The Autzen crowd will be noisy and intense as usual, and the Oregon defense leads the Pac-10 in pass defense giving up just 187.3 yards per game. The Ducks have also been very good at getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks (last week being an obvious exception) and should be able to harass Osweiler and force him to make some mistakes. As for the Sun Devil defense, it has been a solid unit. But a year ago ASU also had a good defense - until Oregon came to town. Dennis Erickson said that the UO was the only team his defense couldn't figure out how to slow down, and the same should be true this year. The Devils have also had some injury and off field issues with some of their defensive players, and the unit isn't coming in at full strength. That should spell trouble. OREGON - 45, ASU - 10
Tom Ward - Last week in Palo Alto the offense did its part. If you put up 42 points and 570 yards of offense you should never lose a game. But a bad day for the Oregon defense was too much to overcome. This week the Ducks will keep doing their thing on offense. They will move the ball and get their points. But expect Nick Aliotti's defense to rebound big time. He won't allow them to have another bad game. And when you throw in the fact that Arizona State will be starting a true freshman at quarterback, you really have to like Oregon's chances. And the Sun Devils have already struggled to score points to begin with. They will again on Saturday. OREGON - 34, ASU - 7
Nick Krupke - Arizona State isn't good. If you have to bench your senior quarterback in favor of a true freshman you've got some serious problems. And it's looking like it will be a long night for Brock Osweiler. The Ducks are going to bring a lot of pressure at him, and he will never be able to get comfortable with the crowd bearing down on him. This game will never be in doubt. Oregon should light up the scoreboard early, and that fog horn is going to get plenty of work throughout the night. OREGON - 42, ASU - 13
Dirk Weishaar - The Duck offense will continue to roll this week. But I do think that the ASU defense will hold Oregon below its scoring average. The Ducks will have to settle for some field goals where they have been able to get touchdowns in prior games. As for the Sun Devils - come on guys. You haven't been able to score as it is, but now you're going to try playing a true freshman at quarterback? Brock Osweiler might want to ask Jeff Tuel about what to expect, but that isn't likely to be a pleasant conversation. OREGON - 30, ASU -13