Thursday morning the Arizona State Sun Devil faithful awoke to see that the giant 60-foot "A" that sits on A-mountain overlooking Sun Devil Stadium had been vandalized by the fans of their prime-time opponent. The usually golden colored symbol was now painted green—Oregon Duck green.
Not amused by the prank, students quickly painted the "A" black Thursday morning. The "A" is black this week because ASU is having a black-out theme for Thursday's game. The Sun Devils will sport their spiffy blackout uniforms that they used against Missouri last year in a thrilling overtime victory.
While Arizona State and Oregon are not traditional rivals, the Devils are fired up to take down the No. 3-ranked team in the country.
ASU has been better than anyone could have expected under its new head coach, Todd Graham. The Devils have won five games, and if it was not for a poor second half on the road against Missouri, they would be a perfect 6-0.
Sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly is quietly having a stellar season. Kelly has thrown for 1600 yards, 14 touchdowns and only two interceptions.
ASU's running game has yet to catch fire this season, but if Kelly is able to open up the Ducks with the passing game, expect Cameron Marshall and the speedy D.J. Thomas to take advantage.
Oregon, the defending Rose Bowl champion, has looked even better this year than in the past two, which is impressive considering the Ducks lost only a combined three games during that span.
Freshman quarterback and Hawaii product Marcus Mariota will be the key to the game. The trip to Tempe is the young quarterback's first real road test, and he will have to be on point early. It will be loud, and there will be nerves. How he overcomes that will decide the game.
Looking at the Ducks' previous games may be misleading to how good their defense actually is. Teams usually score on them late in the game, after most of the starters have been taken out.
The best example of how dominant Oregon's defense is the game the Ducks played against ASU's rival school—the University of Arizona. The potent Rich Rodriguez-led offense was shut out against the Ducks, despite gaining 332 total yards on offense.
The matchup is also a contest of the South and North leaders in the Pac-12. The implications are huge, not only for the BCS, but for the site of the Pac-12 Championship Game. If ASU beats Oregon and manages to stave off USC in the South division, Oregon could be coming back to Tempe for a rematch on Nov. 30.
The prank this morning ignited a fire among the ASU faithful. Expect the crowd of nearly 72,000 at Sun Devil stadium to be loud, proud and rowdy. If the Devils win, expect to see a steady stream of black storm the field, throwing players and coaches on their shoulders as the Ducks quickly migrate to the locker room.
However, Arizona State will have to pull off a monumental upset for this to become a reality. Oregon is the No. 3 team in the nation for a reason.
Final score: Oregon 28, Arizona State 31