Despite LaMichael James Injury – Advantage Oregon: Oregon Ducks vs. ASU Sun Devil Preview


Eugene will be high on football energy this Saturday when the #18 Arizona State Sun Devils come to town.  It’ll start with ESPN Game Day bright and early, then with kickoff well after, the Duck fans will be chomping at the bit to make Autzen deafening.  Depending on what happens between #9 Oregon and #7 Stanford, this Saturday’s game in Eugene could be a Pac-12 Championship preview.

Let’s take a look at how it all may break down…



ASU likes to pass.  Starting QB Brock Osweiler shoots off about 36 pass attempts per game and hovers just under 67% pass completion.  With all this passing there is no surprise that Osweiler has thrown a few interceptions this season.  Against less-competitive teams the Sun Devils can make up for those mistakes, but against a lightning-quick Oregon team those mistakes could equal a lopsided score in Oregon’s favor.  On the other hand Oregon’s QB Darron Thomas is much more versatile.  He has only thrown two interceptions so far this season, and has contributed 18 carries for 100 yards along with 15 touchdown passes.  Thomas has proven his agility when under pressure too, with only two sacks over this season so far to Osweiler’s 14.  Oregon’s advantage is on the ground averaging just over 312 yards per game and ASU’s advantage will be in the air with Gerrell Robinson their go-to guy (403 yards, 3 TD, 26 receptions).  Oregon did suffer a set-back in their running game when LaMichael James went down last week with a nasty dislocated right elbow.  It looks very likely that James will not be playing Saturday, but this year the Ducks have depth in this position.

ASU’s offensive line looks intimidating.  They are big, but they have not offered as much protection as Osweiler would like (allowing 14 sacks).  Oregon’s offensive line has only allowed three sacks (two on Thomas and one on Bennett).  The ground game will also offer some insight in why the advantage goes to Oregon on the offensive line; ASU averages 129.7 yards per game on the ground (76th) while Oregon averages 312.6 (5th).  Oregon’s offensive line has looked better as the season progresses and Saturday’s game against ASU shouldn’t be any different.

Oregon will run first, but Thomas has proven his ability to put the ball in the right hands giving the Ducks a more versatile offense than ASU has shown.  If ASU’s passing game falters I believe there is little hope for a competitive game against Oregon and given the Sun Devils tendency to turn the ball over, Oregon may have even more opportunity to put points on the board.


The Sun Devils do like to stop the run so this will work to their advantage against Oregon.  Linebackers Colin Parker and Vontaze Burfict will be ready to snuff out Oregon’s running game and Oregon has had trouble against this type of defense in the past.  While ASU’s defense isn’t as big as LSU’s, they do play in a highly-physical style and that could mean trouble for the Ducks.

Oregon’s defense loves an opportunity and it could be likely that the ASU offense will give them just that.  The Ducks’ defense hasn’t had as much opportunity as they would like this season, but they will be ready on Saturday.  Oregon’s defense will have to watch ASU’s running game too, in particular Cameron Marshall (ASU rushing leader avg. 4.1 yards per carry).  Oregon must contain any attempt at a Sun Devil ground game.  The good news is that Oregon linebacker Michael Clay should be returning for this weekend’s game which means additional strength on the line.   If Oregon’s defense can contain Marshall, get to Osweiler and come down with the potential interceptions, they will be on track for the win.


With LaMichael out for Saturday’s game the Ducks probably won’t put up their typical 50 points per game so there will be some added pressure on the Oregon defense.  Michael Clay’s return couldn’t have come at a better point in the season and coupled with the Autzen factor AutzenZoo thinks this game will go to the Ducks.  Our prediction? 34 – 17 Oregon