Oregon faces its toughest test yet in the 24th-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils. They are not ranked in the AP Poll or the BCS rankings, but they are a top 25 team in the most technical sense of the phrase. Can they pull off the upset or will they repeat the previous toughest tests Oregon has faced this season? Arizona creeped their way into the top 25 just in time leave Autzen Stadium limping and licking their wounds to the tune of 49-0. The Washington Fuskies defeated "mighty" Stanford only to get sodomized on national TV by the Oregon Ducks, as documented two Saturdays ago. The difference between tonight and those games is that those blowouts were home games for Oregon whereas tonight is redshirt freshman QB Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks' first true road game of the season.
Aside from dealing with cocksure Arizona State fans—who are convinced they've "gave away" the Ducks' last trip to Sun Devil Stadium by committing 7 turnovers—I'm not sure of the importance of the road venue. Oregon's most lackadaisical and sloppy performance of the year was against the cooglings in Seattle. But that was Wazzu. Despite being a horrible team, the Washington State cooglings played both the 2010 and 2011 Oregon Ducks pretty tight. Arizona State fans can state that they've played the Ducks close, even given a few games away, but they haven't played Oregon close like WSU. In fact, Oregon is sporting a 7-game winning streak against Arizona State. The overall series is tied at 16-16.
The pregame question du soir:
"Can Arizona State hang in this game tonight?" - Scott Van Pelt
Neither expert on ESPN gives the Sun Devils much of a chance. Mark May predicts 55-21. And that's about right. Vegas has the Ducks as 8.5 point favorites. There is plenty of hype about this being a Big Game. There has even been the kind of college hi-jinx that is usually reserved for rivalry games—Ducks fans painted the "A" on Arizona State's A Mountain a wonderful shade of green. And yet, despite the Phoenix press labeling this an epic game, not a solitary soul is picking Arizona State to win the game.
Sun Devils fans can create attack ads against Puddles the Ducks for tea-bagging the Houston Cougar in 2007. Their blowhards can rant about Oregon having not played anyone while ignoring the fact their team has yet to even play a top 25 team. But not a soul in the rabble that managed to make it into the glorified community college that is Arizona State University honestly expects them to upset Oregon tonight. Hence tonight's spirit signs saying "BREAK THE ATTENDANCE RECORD TONIGHT." Arizona State has not defeated a top 10 team since 2002, which was the second-weakest Oregon team over the past 15 years.
Oregon's relationship with our pitchfork-laden friends to the south, much like the other teams in the Pac-12, remains like this:
Arizona State most resembles Seth Parnell's character in the sketch. I'm sure they've been lifting weights and doing cocaine all day just to face their Oregonian bosses.
I like how Arizona State's entire gameplan is centered on Mariota shitting his pants because he hasn't played a true road game before.
One final thought before kickoff: what kind of self-respecting school uses this "pitchfork" as a hand symbol? I mean seriously, when I went to last year's ASU-Oregon game at Autzen last year, I was surprised a school would use this.
Oregon fumbles after a solid kickoff return. ASU's star defensive lineman Will Sutton appears to be injured after the play... but what the fuck was that play by Oregon? Zone-read without even trying to tuck the ball away by Mariota. 1st down ASU inside Oregon's 30-yard line.
14:11 Arizona State 7, Oregon 0
Touchdown Arizona State. Geebus.
13:49 Oregon 8, Arizona State 7
After a horrible missed PI call on an incomplete pass to Huff, Kenjon Barner runs 71 yards down the field for a touchdown. Two-point conversion is good. This may look like a shootout, but it has the feelings of more of a blowout. That statement operates under the assumption that Oregon's secondary will actually cover people for the remainder of the game.
Dion Jordan with the sack after Oregon employs a 3-man rush and tackling optional defense to let ASU run down the field. Arizona State misses the field goal. lololololololol. Speaking of which, how bad has the kicking game been in the Pac-12 this year?
Oregon is running rough-shod over Arizona State. Barner is only 5 yards under 100 for the night already.
Arizona State's second-best defensive lineman appears to be injured on the field. This could be a weird coincidence. This could be some bizarre attempt to slow down Oregon's offense. Or this could just be the first time the "best defense in the Pac-12" has played a real offensive line. ASU fans spent much of the pregame bragging about how many starting quarterbacks they'd knocked out in their games, well so far their defensive line is dropping like flies.
Arizona State calls a timeout on 4th and 4 because they know they couldn't stop the play that was coming. Will Sutton will not be returning to this game as he is now on crutches. Mariota scrambles for a first down.
7:03 Oregon 15, Arizona State 7
One hell of a throw by Mariota to Braylon Addison for the touchdown. An incredible throw and over-the-shoulder catch in the endzone following two of the Ducks' standard "Let's dick around with Bennett" red-zone package. Following a delay of game penalty, the extra point is good.
Amazing tackle on the ensuing kickoff by #7 on Oregon. Beat all the blockers down the field and then brought the ball-carrier down by the ankles at the 15.
Arizona State tries a tricky pooch punt on 4th & 1 is undone by Chip Kelly calling a timeout. It's only the first quarter and the mighty Sun Devils are going for cute plays. Why not just go for it on 4th and 1? I know that the ball is inside ASU's 30 but why not try it? Their defense isn't stopping shit. Their offense was gaining whatever it wanted up until that last drive. Graham and Co. had nothing to lose and everything to gain on that play. Outside of their gameplan of Mariota spontaneously shitting his pants, they do need to have some faith in their offense.
Kenjon Barner is averaging a svelte 22.4 yards per carry right now...
Oregon reaches to 1st and goal from the 1, after refs ignore a personal foul against ASU for ripping off the receiver's helmet by the facemask.
ASU defender with the Vontaze Burfict Play of the Game by throwing down Barner after he scored a touchdown... but of course, the home-town refs called the play down beforehand to look at the play on second down. Oregon scores either way. Oh wait, Oregon didn't actually score, thanks home-town refs!
1:11 Oregon 22, Arizona State 7
On 3rd down, Mariota with the wild pitch to lead to a touchdown. And ASU coach Graham has a complaint following the stop gifted to his team by the hometown refs. It's a sign of a coach not expecting a win to continue to complain about whether or not a lateral was a "forward pass" as a team marches towards a touchdown. Refs ruled it a forward pass anyways.
End of 1st Quarter: Oregon 22, Arizona State 7
Rece Davis mentions that Todd Graham's statement if things weren't going his team's way was "Don't look at the scoreboard and just keep playing your game." Well, yeah... just keep doing your thing, Sun Devils. Keep throwing short passes, option plays, and letting Taylor Kelly runs for his life behind the line of scrimmage. As a Ducks fan, I have no problem with Arizona State's gameplan. The #1 defense in the Pac-12 is getting abused by the actual #1 team in the conference. The scoreboard is actually kinder to ASU than it should be.
Lokombo picks off the first pass of the second quarter and returns it inside the ten.
14:04 Oregon 29, Arizona State 7
Kenjon Barner stumbled into the endzone on a play that looked as if both the offensive and defensive players said, "You know what, let's just let this drive end."
Arizona State receiver proves why he plays there by dropping the pass on 3rd and long. Duck ball. This game is getting out of hand quickly.
12:26 Oregon 36, Arizona State 7
And there you have it, folks, at 12:26 is the first time ESPN cut to despondent Sun Devils fans in the stands. Oh, and Mariota just ran for 86 yards on a touchdown on that last play.
11:37 Oregon 43, Arizona State 7
Avery Patterson nearly scores a touchdown on an interception for a third-consecutive game. Touchdown on the next play. Kenjon Barner with his 3rd of the game. This Oregon team is straight up filthy.
Samantha Steele: "Yeah, this is what happens when I have to cover a blow out."
"Fourth down and it looks like they're going for it... if you're Arizona State, why not?" - Jesse Palmer
Cue the punt by ASU to down the ball inside the Oregon 5. ASU continues to win the field position battle tonight. Keep reaching for that rainbow, Sun Devils...
Dion Jordan gets his second sack of the game to stop the Sun Devils on 3rd and long. Patterson nearly killed the guy on second down. This defense has come to play. Despite the many obnoxious statements by Arizona State fans in the lead-up to the game, their team has not played a single decent team all year. Oregon is beyond decent. This Oregon team might be better than the 2010 Oregon Ducks who went to the National Title Game.
Sorry for not providing many updates over the last 5 minutes.... but there hasn't been much to say. Arizona State is a paper tiger and Oregon has taken its foot off the gas pedal. This game has gotten out of hand in the first half. Good hustle in the "epic game" tonight, Sun Devils. Excellent performance by Oregon so far.
Halftime: Oregon 43, Arizona State 7
This has been a dominant performance as expected by people who have been following these teams. Oregon is a fast, salty, mean-spirited team with a fuckton of experience in "Big Games." Arizona State is a team that compiled some impressive stats against a soft schedule currently praying that they lose to Oregon by less than Arizona did (49-0 for those keeping score). Oregon has scored 43 points against the "#1 defense in the Pac-12" and picked off the top-rated quarterback in the conference twice. Let that sink in.
RT @cftalk: Ducks rushed for 329 yards in the first half. That's more than two FBS teams -- Wazzu (284) and Tulane (113) -- have all season
Send in the soulful, doleful, SCHMOLTZ by the bowlful... back-ups
Send in the... back-ups *cries*
Jesse Palmer quotes Arizona State's coach Todd Graham as saying, "This is the biggest game in my 27-year coaching career." Well, good hustle tonight, guys.
As Bennett scrambles for a first down on 2nd & 14...
Even the back-ups on defense are getting in on this sack party. So far, we have Oregon's second-string defense completely shutting down the top-rated quarterback in the conference. Still not sure why the line dropped from 12 to 8.5 in Vegas in the week leading up this game. Arizona State fans talk a lot and their coach can ramble quite a bit about this being Mariota's first road start... but come on, people.
Oregon goes three-and-out again with Bennett at QB. The announcers are now discussing the merits of Oregon, Kansas State, and Notre Dame if they win out... why doesn't anyone mention Kansas State chickening out of the home-and-home series against Oregon? Seriously, Bill Snyder and his Wildcats cancelled the series against Oregon once they made a bowl game under Snyder again. Anyone pointing out—correctly, I might add—the weak schedule Oregon has played so far needs to understand that the Ducks should have played at Kansas State this year.
End of 3rd Quarter: Oregon 43, Arizona State 7
Not much happened that quarter. Oregon's back-up offense didn't do much. Arizona State's offense did little against Oregon's 2nd-string defense, though they were driving as the quarter came to an end. The game has devolved into people discussing potential resumes for the chance to play Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game.
Oregon's back-ups stuff ASU's starting offense on 3rd & goal AND 4th & goal. This Oregon defense is filthy good. So much depth, so much talent, and a fittingly tough personality. And fast.
Arizona State's back-up QB is in. "Baby Cam Newton" throws an interception inside the endzone. The score holds at 43-7.
Oregon has outscored Pac-12 opponents 114-33 in first half of 4 conference games so far#goducks
Bennett throws a pick-6... is that his first completion of the game?
4:47 Oregon 43, Arizona State 21
The Sun Devils throw a screen pass that completely befuddles the Oregon defense on their way to another touchdown. I'm glad the back-ups are getting playing time and all... but this is the definition of stumbling to the finish line. So many missed tackles on that last touchdown.
Arizona State recovers an onside kick just in time to throw a pick to Oregon's Dior Mathis, a track star, who returns it to the 50-yard line.
My pregame prediction was not far off (50-21) but I didn't anticipate Bennett and the flunkies playing the entire second half. The previous two "Toughest Test[s] Oregon has Faced" at least made the starters play in the second half. This was a dominant performance by the starting Oregon offense and defense, but the backups gave up more than they should have.
The real important thing about tonight is that this was the third time in four weeks that Oregon faced its "toughest opponent yet" and it, once again, was not close. As much Paul Finebaum's all-things SEC network was a-buzz with reasons why Oregon could never compete with the SEC, it just displayed the insecurity of our southern moocher states. It would be nice to see someone top them in football as I'm sure that would completely destroy the South. But, whatever, Ducks win easily and I'll be in the press box for the Colorado game next weekend.
Does Colorado deserve to be on the same field as Oregon? No, but it's a good excuse to get drunk.