JASON SAYS: Sun Devils looking better, but Ducks should see victory in Pac-12 test
It's easy for me to write now, but I always thought Arizona State needed to change its uniforms. They weren't tough enough looking before; now, Sparky's fork on the ASU helmet sticks it to opponents. I like it, and the colors.
That said, ASU kind of meets its daddy Saturday at Autzen Stadium. Oregon started the fancy uniform trend about eight years ago; often mocked, often praised.
"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," proud UO coach Chip Kelly says. "I think our kids like what we wear.
"But when it's all said and done, it doesn't matter."
True that. The Ducks haven't looked dumb in any uniform combination since the 2006 Las Vegas Bowl, mostly because since acquiring Kelly they don't lose very often and certainly don't get embarrassed (except the 2009 game at Boise State).
As cool as ASU now looks, I'm not sure the Sun Devils can pull off the upset Saturday - only because the game is at Autzen Stadium. If the game was in Tempe, Ariz., I'd definitely pick Dennis Erickson's crew.
I waffled on this pick, because I put a lot of stock in experience. ASU has a ton of seniors, about 30, and Oregon only has 10 on scholarship, as Kelly likes to point out. I called Oregon overrated before the LSU game, because of the loss of many great seniors, among other reasons. But the Ducks have rebounded nicely and, ranked No. 9 now, seem poised to continue their fine play Saturday, despite the probable absence of LaMichael James.
It's all about speed and execution, and I'm not sure the Sun Devils' defense can keep up with the Ducks' offense. I don't think that ASU's defensive line can dictate things. I believe UO will play soundly on offense, not giving up turnovers. Therefore, the Sun Devils cannot hold Oregon under six or seven scores.
But, the UO defense is not formidable in any way. The Ducks have created only four turnovers, they give up lots of rushing yardage, and they appear very susceptible to the passing game. Arizona's Nick Foles and his receivers tore up the UO pass defense and, Cal's Zach Maynard, if only he could complete more of his simple passes, would have done the same. One would think the Ducks could use Cliff Harris, a great ballhawker at cornerback, and maybe he makes an impact against the Sun Devils.
Arizona State, led by QB Brock Osweiler, can stay in the game the old-fashioned way: no turnovers, control the clock, run the ball, convert third downs. If the Sun Devils do the right things, they roll out of Eugene with the win. And wouldn't ex-Duck Aaron Pflugrad, whose father Kelly opted not to retain as an assistant coach, be tickled?
Any slip-up and Oregon wins No. 20 in a row at Autzen Stadium. I'm thinking QB Darron Thomas and backup running backs Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas get the job done, the defense makes some stops and creates one or two key turnovers, and the Ducks get past their first big Pac-12 test.
THE PICK: Oregon 48, Arizona State 38