ASU Falls Apart In 2nd Half, Oregon Wins 41-27

Brock Osweiler and the Arizona State Sun Devils will try to score the biggest victory of the Pac-12 season up to this point when they tackle the Oregon Ducks in Eugene.

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ASU Vs. Oregon: Ducks' Speed And Execution Too Much For Devils In 41-27 Defeat

In a season of great leaps forward and streaks broken, Arizona State fell back into old habits in their 41-27 loss to Oregon on Saturday.

Entering the game, ASU was ranked No. 18 in the nation and in total control of the Pac-12 South. Standing in their way was No. 9 Oregon and their lightning fast offense.  Even with the Ducks' star running back LaMichael James missing the game, the Ducks were still loaded with explosive playmakers.

The Devils opened with a three-and-out, but a Kenjon Barner fumble gave ASU excellent field position, which they promptly converted into a 20-yard touchdown pass from Brock Osweiler to Gerrell Robinson.  

A defensive stand by the Devils' defense was wasted by a bad drive by the offense, and the Ducks then took advantage on the next drive.  An ASU personal foul aided the Ducks as they soon scored on a 16-yard De'Anthony Thomas run.

The Devils did show great resolve in answering back immediately.  Despite their running game being completely shut down, ASU drove 77-yards in seven plays that ended with a 25-yard scoring pass from Osweiler to Mike Willie.

ASU appeared to have forced the Ducks to punt after a thrid down incompletion, but a Bo Moos roughing the passer call extended the drive, and in typical Oregon blitzkrieg fashion, they soon scored the tying touchdown after three Darron Thomas passes.

A Shelly Lyons interception appeared to primed the Devils for a big swing, but the drive stalled and ended in a 37-yard field goal by Alex Garoutte.  Late in the second half, the Devils were driving deep into Ducks' territory when a taunting penalty on Gerrell Robinson after his clutch catch pushed the Devils back. On the very next play, Osweiler was intercepted in the endzone by Cliff Harris, who returned it 50 yards.  Three plays later, Thomas threw another touchdown pass to give Oregon a 21-17 lead that they took into halftime.

ASU's chances appeared to get a huge boost on Oregon's first drive that opened the second half.  Darron Thomas was injured on a run and did not return. After a brief bump from the shock of being without their starting running back and quarterback, the Ducks soon were back.

Before that, Arizona State did manage to re-take the lead, after a 51-yard swing pass to Jamal Miles was capped by a touchdown run by Cameron Marshall to put the Devils ahead 24-21.

Then the Ducks ground game went into full on beast mode.

With backup quarterback Bryan Bennett in the game, the Ducks ran De'Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner right down the Sun Devils' throats. Even Bennett got into the action, with a 36-yard run among his 65 yards for the game. Both Thomas and Barner scored touchdowns in the third quarter, and another Oregon field goal early in the fourth quarter gave Oregon a lead that would never be threatened.

It surely wouldn't be in danger with the conservative playcalling of Dennis Erickson. On the next drive, he opted for a 30-yard field goal instead of attempt a fourth and seven at the Ducks' 13, and later opted to punt with just under eight minutes left in the game and trailing by 14 points, following another Oregon field goal.

The Ducks were able to run out the clock while ASU appeared defeated on both offense and defense. The final Sun Devil drive with under a minute left ended with a perfect touchdown strike to Jamal Miles being bobbled and then intercepted.

It was that kind of night.

Oregon finished with 327 yards on the ground, including Barn'er career-high 171.

Yet, this should be a mere speed bump to the Sun Devils' season. The Sun Devils head into their bye week with a solid 5-2 record and are 3-1 in conference play, and still firmly in control of the South division.

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ASU Vs. Oregon: Ducks Pulling Away Despite Darron Thomas Injury

A first half personified by "what ifs" gave the Sun Devils equal parts optimism and regret, as they trailed No. 9 Oregon 21-17 at the break, thanks to the usual complement of stupid penalties and ill-timed turnovers.

Oregon took the ball to begin the second half after deferring to start the game.

The drive looked promising after a nice second down run by quarterback Darron Thomas, but he injured his left knee on the play and was taken off.  On the next play, Will Sutton shot through the line to drop running back Kenjon Barner for a loss to force an Oregon punt.

The Sun Devils looked prime to answer back and regain the lead.  They wasted no time, as Jamal Miles took a swing pass 51-yards to the Oregon 16, and the third Cameron Marshall run following was good for the go-ahead touchdown that gave ASU a 24-21 lead.

With backup quarterback Bryan Bennett in the game, the Ducks re-committed to the run.  Barner and De'Anthony Thomas made it look easy as the Ducks were able to drive 68-yards in 1:50 and take a 28-24 lead on Thomas' three yard run.

The pressure was on to answer back to the Ducks' blitzkrieg attacks, but a three and out forced a quick punt, but thankfully a good roll pushed the Ducks back to their 12-yard line.  However, Bennett immediately reeled off a 36-yard run to take the ball to midfield.  A controversial ruling on a Bennett fumble was upheld and Oregon kept possession.  Two Barner runs later and the Ducks had extended their lead to 35-24.

ASU managed to get a first down, but a key third down conversion was called back after and offensive pass interference call.  The next pass fell incomplete, and the Sun Devils had to punt.

However, the defense finally stepped up, and forced a three-and-out of their own, and the Ducks punt was fair caught at the ASU 20.  Sadly, a short Marshall run was followed by two straight sacks and the Devils had to punt from near the goal line, and Oregon took over at their own 40.

They continued to gash the Devils with the run, but a taunting penalty on Thomas set up a third down and long to open the fourth quarter.

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ASU Vs. Oregon Uniform Report: Sun Devils Get With Tradition, Ducks Go Dark

These days in college football teams have as many uniform options as they do offensive play calls. The Oregon Ducks, well-funded by Nike, started the trend and still leads the nation in wardrobe selection. Arizona State got in on the act this season with a complete uniform makeover that thrilled fans and players alike.  

So far this season we've seen the Sun Devils go with all black against Mizzou at home, all white against Illinois on the road. We've seen plenty of other mixes of maroon, white and yellow. For this Saturday's game against Oregon, the Sun Devils have opted for maroon helmets, white jerseys and maroon pants. If you want a preview of what that will look like, go to this great web site and check it out.

The Ducks are copying ASU's blackout and going with black helmets, jerseys and pants and feathers, of course.

For more on Arizona State, check out House of Sparky.

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ASU Vs. Oregon: 4th And Goal - How The Sun Devils Can Defeat The Ducks

Is this a preview of December 2nd's Pac-12 Championship Game?  With the Sun Devils firmly in control of the Pac-12 South, it may come down to the winner of the Oregon versus Stanford game on November 12th to determine whether Saturday's huge game will merely be prelude to a battle for a BCS berth.

No. 18 Arizona State will have their hands full with the speed of No. 9 Oregon, not to mention the hostile environment of Autzen Stadium.  So how can the Sun Devils come away with a huge win?

1st - Only Hope to Contain Them

Oregon's Heisman contending running back LaMichael James should miss the game, but Oregon's second ranked scoring offense (50.2 points per game) shouldn't miss a beat. The Ducks are loaded with dynamic playmakers such as Kenjon BarnerDe'Anthony Thomas and Darron Thomas.  It is unrealistic to believe that ASU can stop their offense entirely, so instead they must focus on containment.  They must ensure that the Ducks are not able to consistently make big plays while at the same time forcing multiple turnovers.  ASU's defense has 17 takeaways in the last four games, and will need perhaps three or more to give the Sun Devils a strong chance.

2nd - Run

Arizona State is venturing into one of the most intimidating stadiums in the nation in a nationally televised game with major conference implications.  You can bet that the Oregon fans and players will be hyped up and ready, so one thing that ASU can do to combat that is to establish a strong running game early. 

Oregon is one 86th in the country in rush defense, but ASU is averaging only 3.7 yards per carry on the season, and had a disastrous day on the ground in Utah when that number was a pathetic 1.9.  The offensive line must get a strong push in their run blocks against Oregon's undersized defensive front to open running lanes for running back Cameron Marshall.

3rd - Keep Brock Standing Tall

The ASU offense is talented enough to score 30 or more points on most any team in the nation.  That is, if they can protect quarterback Brock Osweiler, a facet that the offensive line has struggled with a times this year.  Oregon likes to bring a lot of blitzes, utilizing their defender's speed in attempts to overwhelm opposing offensive lines with sheer numbers.  The Devils must be up to the task or risk a blowout loss in Autzen Stadium.  If Osweiler can get time, he should have plenty of options downfield against a young and inexperienced Oregon secondary.

4th - Rattle Darron Thomas

Since Oregon's opening day loss to LSU, Duck quarterback Darron Thomas has thrown 14 touchdowns and only one interception and has been maturing into one of the top quarterbacks in the Pac-12.  He has not run nearly as much as he did last season, but that may change with LaMichael James out of the lineup.

ASU's defense needs to attack Thomas.  While that may not mean getting sacks-Oregon has only allowed three all year-they must be a disruptive force, as they did a week ago against Utah's Jon Hays.  Despite a modest sack total, their consistent pressure led to several key errors by Hays, and they will need to replicate that effort once again in Eugene.

Goal - No Margin for Error

Oregon is one of the few teams in the country that has more top-to-bottom talent than ASU, and more importantly, the Ducks' execution is second-to-none.

The Sun Devils proved in last season's 42-31 loss that they can beat the Ducks.  They outplayed them for most of the game, but were done in by three interception in the fourth quarter.

They can not commit those same mistakes and have a chance to pull off the upset win, whether the culprit is turnovers, penalties or poor execution.  Oregon can and will take advantage of those blunders.

ASU must play a near-perfect game in order to win this game.

Prediction: Oregon 38, ASU 34

For more in-depth analysis of this game, check out the Speak of the Devils podcast, now on iTunes.

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ASU Vs. Oregon: Sun Devils QB Brock Osweiler, 'We Expect To Win'

The Arizona State Sun Devils are headed to Oregon to take on the ninth-ranked Ducks in a game that coach Dennis Erickson sees as an opportunity for his underdog team. Vegas has the Ducks as 14.5-point favorites and history tells us that ASU hasn't beaten Oregon since 2004 back when the Ducks only had multiple and not unlimited uniform combinations.

"For us to get to get this program down the road to the elites, you have to win games like this," Erickson said. "This is really our first opportunity to have that in a while. It's going to fun, our players know that."

The team is definitely excited about the opportunity and claim to have had a great week of preparation. That included fake crowd noise to prepare the offense for operating in loud Autzen Stadium.

Having the game featured by ESPN's College Game Day doesn't hurt either. Brock Osweiler claims the team is focused and ready for the game on Saturday.

Asked why this time will be different than the last seven failed attempts to beat the Ducks, Osweiler rattled off a list of reasons his team can win. ASU has won on ESPN. ASU has won on the road. ASU has beat ranked teams. And of course, ASU hadn't beaten USC in 11 years before trouncing them at home a few weeks ago.

"We expect to win." Oswieler said. "We don't pay attention to what outsiders outside of this football program predict, write about, talk about. We're just concerned with our football team and our football team's goal is to win every football game so we treat it the same way."

Erickson, perhaps calling on a few more years of experience in such matters, had a slightly more subdued prediction, "We'll go up there and play as hard as we can and see what happens."

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