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Chip Kelly and the Oregon Ducks have dominated the Pac-12 recently. It won't be easy against ASU on Thursday.
An often-overlooked statistic in QB performance is the number of sacks taken. Sure, the offensive line plays a large part in the number, but with two mobile QBs it is a very important number.
Taking a sack can be a drive killer. With two young but talented QBs, avoiding sacks is crucial. These two have done a solid job at avoiding sacks and playing by the “live to see another play” mentality.
Mariota has been sacked eight times in Oregon’s first six games. Kelly has been sacked 11 times in that span.
With these two potent offenses clashing in Arizona, the quarterback who takes the fewest sacks will have an upper hand. Sacks hinder field position and with big play threats abundant, every yard will be important on Thursday.
ASU’s defense is second in the country with 4.33 sacks per game. Oregon ranks 24th at 2.83. Keeping the QBs upright will be a challenge.
Still, with the mobility of the signal callers, these two QBs could have ample opportunity to tuck the ball and run. Any positive play instead of a loss will help these offenses control the tempo and the clock.
Prediction: Oregon 38, Arizona State 31
It’s tough to go to Tempe in mid-October. With the majority of the country cooling down, the high temperature Thursday is in the mid-90s. That will drop by game time, but weather will be a factor.
Oregon and Arizona State have enough offense to put up some gaudy point totals. Expect defensive stops to be at a premium in this one.
Ultimately, Oregon gets the edge, but not a comfortable win. The Sun Devils haven’t been close in their last four meetings. The closest margin was in 2010―an 11-point defeat.
ASU had a week to prepare after their game last Thursday against Colorado. Oregon was idle last week. If you enjoy points and big plays, this is the game for you.