Pac-10 play is finally here, and the Ducks get things started with a trip to the desert of Tempe, Arizona. This will be the most difficult opponent Oregon has faced so far this season, even though Arizona State was picked to finish ninth in the conference.
The Sun Devils showed that they could be better than advertised last week when they nearly pulled off an upset over #11 Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium. ASU had a PAT blocked with 4:09 left to play, and the Badgers escaped with a 20-19 victory.
Steven Threet appears to be a big upgrade for the Devils at quarterback. ASU ranks 12th in the country in passing offense at 305.3 yards per game, and the Sun Devils rank 21st in scoring offense at 38 points per game.
But the trademark for ASU has been its defense, led by the aggressive -- both with his play and his mouth -- Vontaze Burfict at linebacker. The Devils have a lot of speed all over the field, and they return most of the pieces from one of the stingiest run defenses in the Pac-10 last season.
Brian Elder -- While Arizona State definitely looks to be better than I (and most other people) thought, the Sun Devils still have a lot of issues. Steven Threet has been effective running the new-look spread-option attack ASU has gone to, but there's a reason Rich Rodriguez didn't keep him around to run the show at Michigan. Threet is a decent passer, but he doesn't offer much of a threat in the running game. And if the defense doesn't have to worry about the QB keeping the ball on the zone read it becomes easy to defend. Wisconsin was able to hold ASU to just 19 points, and 7 of those came on a kickoff return for a touchdown. Oregon's defense is faster and better than the Badgers' and should be able to hold the Sun Devils in check.
ASU's defense is talented, and the Sun Devils do bring back most of the guys from the Pac-10's leading run defense. But when ASU came to Autzen last year as the #6 rush defense in the country giving up just 87.44 yards per game, the Ducks ran up more than 100 by the end of the first quarter en route to rushing for 268 yards on the night. Oregon's offense has gotten better since then, and I can't see the Devils having much luck slowing the Ducks down this time either. OREGON: 52, ASU: 14
Tom Ward -- The 31st all-time matchup between the Ducks and Sun Devils is set up to go down just like the previous three games between the two programs. Oregon has won three straight against Arizona St by a combined score of 133-64. The Ducks lead the nation in scoring at 63 points per game, and scoring defense, allowing just 4.3 points per game. Not much suggests that ASU will be able to actually stop Oregon, including Dennis Erickson himself wondering aloud if his team was fast enough to keep up.
OREGON STATE vs. BOISE STATE:
Trips to Boise haven't been a lot of fun lately for anyone, and with ESPN's College Gameday coming to the Gem State for the first time, the atmosphere figures to be even more hostile than usual.
Since 1999 Boise State has lost only two games at Bronco Stadium. BSU is riding a 56-game winning streak at home. And with a #3 national ranking, the Broncos will be looking to make a statement to the rest of the country that they are indeed worthy of that distinction.
Boise State boasts one of the most powerful offenses in the country, which could spell trouble for an Oregon State defense that has struggled in both of its games.
But the Beavers have plenty of firepower on offense too, and for OSU to pull the upset the Beavs might have to make it a track meet that they pull out with a late drive to win it.
Brian Elder -- Before the Louisville game I was thinking that I was going to pick OSU to win this game. But as I was watching Adam Frohman -- who isn't exactly a Vince Young clone -- befuddle the Beaver defense with his scrambles for first downs and touchdowns, I started to rethink it. That's not to say OSU can't win this game -- it most certainly can. Boise State's pass defense has some holes in it, and if Ryan Katz is on target with the deep ball this could be a very interesting game. The Broncos also have to deal with all the pressure in this game. Everyone expects BSU to roll, and if they don't some in the national media will view it as a disappointment. I think OSU will fight most of the way, just as they did against TCU, but the Broncos will pull away in the 4th quarter for the win. BSU: 42, OSU: 28
Tom Ward -- Blue Monday at Oregon State was more about having a little fun with this week’s azure playing surface at Boise State than anything. OSU will take on the Broncos on field turf, so working out on natural grass wouldn’t be an optimal situation. But, give credit to Beavers AD Bob DeCarolis for a nice pressure release this week, when Mike Riley’s squad could easily be gripping and trying to avoid another 1-2 start.
Nick Krupke -- Credit the Beavers for playing two top 10 teams in the non-conference schedule. It should pay off for their attempt to run at the Rose Bowl. But Boise State is a monster. For the past few years the Broncos have been more than just a dynamic offensive team. The defense has caught up and then some. #2 against the run in the country, and Quizz will be stuffed on the smurf turf. Boise State is legit, and will have a field day against the youthful Beaver dee is still coming along. BSU: 47, OSU: 13
Dirk Weishaar -- The Broncos’ offense is a machine. The Beavers’ defense is a step slow. As a result, OSU will be playing catch up all night long on the “smurf turf.” The Beavs might keep it close for a while, but BSU will have too much for Oregon State. Oh by the way, Boise State has a 63-2 record at Bronco Stadium from 2000-2010. That’s the nation’s best home winning percentage. BSU: 41, OSU: 24
Another week, another winner in the KVAL sports office. This time Dirk Weishaar earns the bonus point for being oh-so-close to the final score of the Oregon game (Dirk had 69-3).
1. Dirk Weishaar: 5-0 (6), 1. Brian Elder: 5-0 (6), 1. Tom Ward: 5-0 (6), 4. Nick Krupke: 5-0 (5)