While Thursday night college football games are always entertaining, this week’s battle between the No. 3 Oregon Ducks and the Arizona State Sun Devils is the perfect way to kick off Week 8.
Oregon (6-0) comes into this game as one of the most heralded teams in the sport, while the Sun Devils sit at 5-1 on the season and have looked very talented at times.
With this game taking place in Tempe, Ariz., the Ducks are on upset alert.
This is a Pac-12 matchup every college football fan will love.
Who ya got?
When: Thursday, Oct. 18 at 9 p.m. ET
Where: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Radio: Free Football Radio
Betting Line (via Covers)
Over/Under: OFF; Spread: Arizona State (+9.5)
While the Oregon Ducks have been dominant all season, this game has too many variables to be a blowout. I’m still taking Oregon despite giving Arizona State 9.5 points to start, but it’s only because I have the Ducks winning by 10. This is a very dangerous wager.
Injury Report (via USA Today)
Mike Pennel, DL, Out indefinitely
Rashad Wadood, CB, Out for season
Carlos Mendoza, LB, Out for season
Michael Clay, LB, Questionable
Keloni Kamalani, LB, Out indefinitely
Carson York, OL, Out for season
John Boyett, S, Out for season
BCS/Top 25 Implications
While these teams aren’t much different scheme-wise, they are in much different positions in the Top 25 and BCS Championship hunt.
Oregon is ranked No. 3 in the nation, and it has remained undefeated through the first six games of the season. If the Ducks win the remaining matchups on their schedule, there is little doubt that they will contend for a national title.
Arizona State, on the other hand, is looking to hand the Ducks their first loss and cement its own spot in the AP Top 25. With a win over Oregon, the Sun Devils would move into consideration for a serious bowl bid.
Oregon Player To Watch: Kenjon Barner, RB
The biggest key for the Ducks will be running back Kenjon Barner and how he deals with the tough run defense of the Sun Devils.
Arizona State boasts the ninth-best statistical defense in college football and will be ready to stop anything Barner throws its way. If Oregon wants to win, it needs Barner to break out.
With 727 yards and nine touchdowns on 116 carries, there is no doubt that the better Barner plays Thursday night, the easier the win for the Ducks will be.
Arizona State Player To Watch: Taylor Kelly, QB
Despite it taking a few games to find out the strengths and weaknesses of sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly, the Arizona State leader has proven that he is a legitimate star in college football.
With 1,600 yards passing and 14 touchdowns compared to just two interceptions, Kelly has found his rhythm and built himself quite the resume in 2012.
If Kelly can find his receivers early and force Oregon’s 32nd-ranked defense on its heels, there is no doubt that the Sun Devils could sneak out a huge upset win.
Prediction: Oregon 34, Arizona State 24
While Oregon would win the game outright, this will be a much closer battle than the final score indicates. It will be a late score that puts the Ducks up for good, but this will be a hard-fought battle with a greater emphasis on defense.
The win will keep Oregon on the right path to BCS glory, but the strong effort will help Arizona State get the national respect it deserves.
The Sun Devils will finish the season in the AP Top 25.
Check back for more on the NCAA Football as it comes, and don’t miss Bleacher Report’s College Football page to get your fill of college football.