The Devil Went up to Autzen | Oregon vs. ASU recap


Oregon’s ability to run the football consistently proved too much for an ASU heavy pass attack. Last Saturday Oregon beat ASU 41-27 at Autzen stadium in what could be a preview of the Pac-12 Championship game. The Sun Devils are certainly the favorite to win the Pac-12 South, and if Oregon can beat Washington and Stanford to secure the North then Oregon would host a rematch with ASU.

Looking at the stats from this game Oregon was very disappointing on third down conversions (3-11). ASU didn’t do much better; the Sun Devils converted only 5 third downs out of 16 attempts. Both teams had a total of 22 first downs. Then there’s a stat that doesn’t mean a lot to Oregon fans is time of possession; of course ASU had control of pigskin for just under 34 minutes while Oregon controlled the clock for 26 minutes and 11 seconds.

A major stat that really hurt the Sun Devils was penalty yards. Oregon had 7 penalties for 75 total yards. ASU had only 1 more penalty (8 total) but for 95 yards. None bigger then a 3rd down roughing the passer (hands to the face) by Sun Devil defensive lineman Bo Moss that gave Oregon a first down and eventually lead to a touchdown.

Even the commentators in the booth Saturday night pointed out how well defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti adjusts his defensive scheme in the second half. Oregon’s defense stepped up tremendously in the second half, only allowing 10 points (a third quarter touchdown and a fourth quarter field goal). Even without LaMichael James, one of the nation’s top rushers, Oregon ran for 327 yards. Darron Thomas left the game when his knee was “banged.” A particularly troublesome situation for Oregon fans, thinking back to a team that should have won a national championship if it wasn’t for a knee injury to QB Dennis Dixon. Downplayed by the media, Dixon came in the very next game and attempted to make one cut before his knee went out again ending any chance for a national championship season. Thomas’ knee injury seemed to be because of contact and not the twisting type of injury that spells ligament(s).

ASU is an interesting team offensively. The Sun Devils want to stretch the defense across the entire 53 yard width by throwing bubble passes to their tailbacks out of the backfield. Oregon seemed to be prepared for this, and Cliff Harris back in the starting lineup proved to be huge covering both the flats and the deep third. I said this when I was previewing the ASU vs. Missouri non-conference game, and I stand by it, ASU will not be a top 15 team until they can run the football between the tackles. Brock Osweiler was fantastic. Standing in the pocket head and shoulders above anyone else on the field (standing 6’8) he threw the ball 46 times completing 29 for 291 yards. Osweiler also threw 2 touchdowns but was picked off twice by Oregon.

The five plays that determined the game

  1. Early in the second quarter on 3rd and 12 Thomas throwing out of his end zone (incomplete pass to Josh Huff) Bo Moos was flagged for hitting Darron Thomas late with hands to the face. Giving Oregon a first down which sustained the then game tying drive 14-14.
  2. After Oregon tied the game at 14; Osweiler marches the Sun Devil offense down the field threatening to score. Oregon’s defense shows their first signs of tightening up and stops the Sun Devils in the red zone holding ASU to only 3 points. A touchdown here would have changed the momentum of the game. I think this stop is one that started to get Oregon’s defense the confidence to slow down Osweiler and the Sun Devils offensive attack.
  3. Late in the first half just over a minute remaining in the game Osweiler throws a fade down the right sideline. Senior WR Mike Willie slipped allowing Oregon’s standout corner Cliff Harris to easily intercept the pass and run the ball back to the 50 yard line.
  4. Down 17-14 after the Cliff Harris INT, Darron Thomas throws a perfect ball to Paulson for a 12 yard TD strike. Giving Oregon the lead heading into half time.
  5. Bryan Bennett comes into to the game after an ASU touchdown drive to take the Ducks down and score a touchdown early in the third. This drive was critical for Oregon. This proved to Oregon that they could run behind the offensive line without LaMichael James, a banged up Barner, and without Darron Thomas at QB. Bennett stepped up and made a big throw on this drive. Bryan stepped up and executed the zone read which lead to a DeAnthony Thomas score. This drive would catapult the Ducks ahead of ASU.