ASU tries to break losing skid to Ducks

Oct 14, 2011, 5:08 PM | Updated: 6:16 pm

In the history of the rivalry between 18th-ranked Arizona
State and 9th-ranked Oregon, the Sun Devils still come out
on top, having won 16 of 31 previous games.

But that number can be a little misleading, as the Ducks
have won the last six meetings—a trend Dennis Erickson’s
18th-ranked squad will try to reverse Saturday night at
Autzen Stadium in Eugene.

The game is one of only four on this week’s schedule that
features two ranked teams, and has been chosen as the site
for ESPN’s College Gameday. It’s the 6th time
that Eugene has served as the backdrop for ESPN’s
signature college football show, and the 2nd time for a
Ducks-Sun Devils game. The Gameday crew was on hand when
the 5th-ranked Ducks beat the 4th-ranked Devils 35-23 back
in 2007.

Erickson, who has never been on the winning side in a game
he’s coached at Autzen, marvels at the Ducks’ skill level
on offense.

“It’s unbelievable. People stop them, stop them, stop
them, and then all of a sudden, they go 70 yards,” he
said. “You’re doing okay, and then all of a sudden, they
put up 28 points so fast it’ll make your head spin.”

Oregon’s offense ranks 2nd nationally, averaging 50.2
points per game and their 539.6 yards per contest ranks
5th among FCS teams.

Last season, the Devils had more than their share of
opportunities during a 42-31 loss to the Ducks at Sun
Devil Stadium in Tempe. ASU committed seven turnovers and
converted on only three of six chances inside the Oregon
red zone. The Sun Devils actually outgained the potent
Ducks’ offense 597 to 385 in that game.

Autzen hasn’t only been a tough setting for Erickson and
Arizona State. The Ducks have won 19 straight home games,
a streak that dates back to September 20, 2008, when Boise
State left town with a 37-32 win. During the streak,
Oregon has averaged 49.2 points per game on their home
turf.

Injuries

Oregon running back LaMichael James, who leads the nation
in rushing at 170.4 yards per game, probably won’t play
(although Oregon head coach Chip Kelly is notoriously
tight-lipped when it comes to revealing information about
player injuries). James suffered a dislocated right elbow
in last week’s win over California, and according to
reports out of Eugene, didn’t practice on Thursday.

Ducks’ linebacker Michael Clay should be ready to go after
recovering from a sprained left ankle.

For ASU, offensive lineman Aderious Simmons, who injured
his ankle in the season-opener against UC-Davis, should be
back in the starting lineup at right tackle. Cornerback
Osahon Irabor suffered a bruised back last Saturday at
Utah, but returned to practice on Wednesday.

And ASU could have sophomore defensive end Junior Onyeali
back in a very limited role. Onyeali suffered a knee
injury vs. Illinois and could play a couple of snaps vs.
Oregon, although it’s far more likely he returns to the
lineup on October 29th against Colorado.

Arizona Sports’ Craig Grialou contributed to this
report

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ASU tries to break losing skid to Ducks