This is the game. The big test. A chance to finally find out how good of a college football team they are. After a schedule filled with bad to mediocre teams, the first big test is finally here.
This coming Thursday night on national television at Sun Devil Stadium we finally find out how good Oregon is. That’s right, the Ducks (6-0, 3-0) have their first big test of the season after taking care of a bunch of patsies when they come to Tempe to take on a good Arizona State team. Is Oregon good enough to win the Pac-12? Are they good enough to play for and win a national championship? The Sun Devils (5-1, 3-0) will be their first big test this season.
Oregon played a non-conference schedule that was — well, to put it lightly — garbage. They beat Arkansas State, Tennessee Tech and Fresno State. They took care of business in all three of those games and then played three weak Pac-12 teams in Washington State, Washington and Arizona. Yes, they are unbeaten at 6-0 but they haven’t been tested. I expect they will this Thursday against a Sun Devil team that actually plays defense unlike any of Oregon’s first six opponents.
The Devils, led by Will Sutton and his 8 ½ sacks, lead the Conference in quarterback takedowns with 26 and are third in the conference with nine interceptions. ASU has held Illinois to 14 points, Utah to 7, Cal to 17 and Colorado to 17. Now Oregon is a much much different team than any of those, as they are an offensive juggernaut under Chip Kelly, but still this defense is by far the best redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota will have faced.
As for Oregon’s defense, nothing against Keith Price, Connor Halliday or Matt Scott who are all good quarterbacks, but Taylor Kelly will be the best and most dynamic quarterback they have faced. Kelly leads the Pac-12 and is sixth in the country in passing efficiency with a rating of 176. He leads the conference and is 19th in the country in completion percentage 68%. He has 14 touchdown passes and just 2 interceptions and is a threat to run, averaging over five yards per carry on carries in which he is not sacked, gaining 308 yards on the ground.
Kelly has thrown touchdown passes to eight different players and eight different players have at least eight receptions. The Devils average 479 yards per game, so they can move the ball up and down the field as well and will test the Ducks’ defense.
So while we all agree that we will find out a lot about how good the Devils are in this game and whether they can play with the big boys or not, this game is not only about ASU being tested.
It’s about Oregon as well.