Why Oregon Ducks Need to Win Big at Arizona State  

By SPENCER McLAUGHLIN

Contributor, 750 The Game

Oregon once again came in at #6 in the latest edition of the College Football Playoff rankings. The final year of the 4-team playoff is creating about as much drama in the final weeks of the regular season as possible. There’s still a lot of football left to be played including ever-vital conference championship games. But every week right now is critical for every team that wants a slot. 

The Ducks are behind #5 Washington who’s 10-0 heading into the (real) game of the week in College Football against #11 Oregon State. The Beavers come to Autzen Stadium next week. At worst, the Beavers should be ranked inside the top 15 when that happens. At best, they could be well inside the top 10. 

Oregon’s resume has been a subject of conversation throughout the weekly releases of the CFP rankings. Their early season win at Texas Tech isn’t as shiny as it could be. The Colorado game was played on a big stage, but the Buffs’ season has fizzled out and I doubt they even make a bowl game after the 3-0 start. Utah is 7-3 and after a massive drop in the rankings (unfairly I might add), the Ducks’ resume could take another hit if the Utes lose @ #17 Arizona this week. The Wildcats are playing good football right now, and the Ducks play the Sun Devils instead of UA this year. 

More on this week’s game in a moment.

The dominant win at Utah and a win over USC are helping the Ducks remain the highest-ranked 1-loss team in all of college football. But I think it’s been their margin of victory in games like this one that have helped them the most. That, and Texas’ head-to-head win with Alabama. 

The Longhorns are right behind the Ducks at #7 in the CFP rankings, and it seems every week Texas is scraping by another mediocre or below average football team. Last week it was TCU. They escaped Houston thanks to a bad spot. Meanwhile, Oregon started Pac-12 play with wins of 42-6 over Colorado and Stanford. They beat Cal 63-19 and were up 22 points with 1 minute to go before a late TD by Washington State in garbage time made it a 38-24 final score.

Oregon has won when they haven’t played their best football (Texas Tech and USC) and have been dominant elsewhere against inferior competition. Plus, their loss @ Washington is a stronger outcome than Texas’ neutral site loss to a 2-loss Oklahoma team. Going forward, Oregon fans should want Texas to keep winning. That’s the only thing standing between the Ducks and having to compare resumes with a rolling Alabama team.

Anyone want to challenge SEC bias even as the Crimson Tide take on Chattanooga this week? I don’t. Nobody except Joel Klatt seems to care that in the midst of a CFP chase, Nick Saban’s team is playing a team who’s biggest moment was appearing in the infamous Key and Peele “East-West Bowl” sketch. 

Which brings us to this week’s game against Arizona State in the desert. The Ducks’ CFP hopes as a 1-loss team were thwarted in this very spot back in 2019 with Jayden Daniels, now thriving at LSU, serving as the lead spoiler. 

I’m rooting for Kenny Dillingham, that guy cares so darn much about his job and his school it’s hard not to. But Oregon is on a mission here, and the Ducks are a 23.5 point favorite against an ASU team that has some nice pieces–but not enough. Their defense played amazingly against Washington, holding the Huskies to 15 points and 0 offensive touchdowns. They also got housed by Utah 55-3 at Rice-Eccles Stadium, a place Oregon dominated for a 35-6 win.

Bo Nix and the offense will be too much for ASU defensive coordinator Brian Ward to slow down. I also love Oregon’s defense in this spot against a revolving door of QBs that include, uh, non-quarterbacks. The Sun Devils’ offensive line will struggle with the Oregon pass rush, I’m predicting at least 4 sacks.

Prediction:

Oregon 45, ASU 13

Spencer McLaughlin is an Oregon Ducks football contributor to 750 The Game. He also hosts the “Locked On Oregon Ducks” and “Locked On Pac-12” podcasts and has work featured throughout the season here.

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