The Arizona State Sun Devils face their toughest opponent of the 2010 college football season this Saturday—the AP ranked No. 5 Oregon Ducks.
Oregon may very well be the best team in the country, in fact, Arizona State head coach Dennis Erickson believes they are.
The Sun Devils will host a Saturday night showdown in the desert to open Pac-10 play, hoping to finally take down the Oregon Ducks after years coming up short.
One plus? It is being played in the heat of Tempe. Chip Kelly prepared his team for the heat early this week in their indoor practice facility, cranking the heat up to 90 degrees.
The heat took a toll on the Oregon players, who weighed themselves before and after practice, and needed a few days to recover.
While the heat will hit 105 degrees during the day, it is hard to imagine the Ducks showing too much wear with the level of play they have put out thus far.
Let's take a look at this week's scouting report for the Ducks and Sun Devils.
The Oregon Ducks have put up more points in their first three games than any other of the 120 FBS teams in the country—averaging 63 points a game. The Ducks are also second in the country for rushing yards per game, averaging 380.7 during each contest.
Not to mention, the Ducks are averaging 611 total offensive yards through the first three games.
Oregon's explosive offense is probably the best in the country, and is stacked with unbelievable talent.
Duel-threat starting quarterback Darron Thomas has racked up 562 yards, eight touchdowns, and two interceptions on the year—though only a 53.4 percent completion rate. Thomas has also rushed for 84 yards on the season.
Then come the Oregon running backs, which can be described in one word—fast.
Running back LaMichael James, a potential Heisman candidate, has acquired 361 rushing yards on just 30 carries. This puts his average at 12 yards per carry. He's a man who gets first downs.
The scary thing is that James put up all of these stats in just two games (after being suspended for the opener).
While the Arizona State offense is not as explosive as Oregon's, it is not something to take lightly.
The new Sun Devil no-huddle spread offense proved to be successful last week against the Wisconsin Badgers, making it difficult for the opponents' defense to stay on their toes.
Starting quarterback Steven Threet has proven that he is the perfect fit for the high-octane, air-strike offense, putting up an impressive 841 yards and five touchdowns on the season with a 66 percent completion rate.
With Threet's arm, the Sun Devils are 12th in the country in passing yards, averaging 305.3 per game.
ASU's running game looked potent against the supposedly tough Wisconsin defense in Week 3, led by running backs Cameron Marshall and Deantre Lewis, but they will have to be spot-on against a quick Oregon defense.
Oregon's defense may be small, but they are fast—very fast. The Ducks defense has been allowing an average of 4.3 points a game, good enough for first in the country.
Granted, two of their three games were against FCS opponents, but they did travel to a hostile environment to take on the Tennessee Volunteers in week two, completely shutting out the Vols' offense in the second half.
The Oregon defense is also only allowing 193.3 yards per game, but have yet to face an offense on the level of Arizona State's.
Regardless of the Ducks' opponents thus far, they are a threat for the Sun Devils offense, particularly Steven Threet, seeing that they love to utilize their speed with the blitz.
The Sun Devil defense has been one of the best in the country in the past few seasons, but mental mistakes halter their true productivity this season.
They performed well against the Wisconsin running game at the start, but it started to take its toll later in the game—something that cannot happen against the Ducks.
Arizona State's defense has the potential to shut down the prolific Oregon offense, but will have to be nearly perfect to do so. The focus must remain and pointless penalties must be kept under control.
For an upset to happen, the Arizona State offense and defense must be spot on—meaning absolutely no mistakes. It is not an impossible task to obtain a program-defining upset, but pretty low on the reality scale.
The Oregon Ducks are a championship-caliber team, and must face this same level of play to be beaten.
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