The Arizona State Sun Devils will try to take one step toward earning a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game this weekend when they visit the Oregon Ducks. Kickoff is set for 10:30 EST on Saturday, November 18, at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon. Fans can catch all the action on the Pac-12 Network.
Oddsmakers list the Ducks as 4-point favorites at home. The over/under for the game is set at 61 points. Make sure you check out a full list of the Week 12 College Football odds.
It’s hard to believe, but Herm Edwards is two wins away from leading the Sun Devils to the Pac-12 Championship Game in his first season in the desert. Arizona State is currently riding a three-game winning streak, bringing them to 6-4 and guaranteeing the Sun Devils a bowl game for the third straight season.
More importantly, ASU is 4-3 in Pac-12 play. That may not sound that impressive, but if the Sun Devils win their two remaining games, they will play in the conference championship game for the first time since 2013 by virtue of a head-to-head tiebreaker with Utah. Of course, to make that happen, Arizona State will have to beat both Oregon and Arizona on the road.
The Ducks, on the other hand, have already secured themselves a bowl spot at 6-4. However, Oregon has struggled down the stretch, losing three of their last four games. To be fair, all three of those losses have come away from home, including two losses against teams that are currently ranked.
However, that doesn’t change the fact that Oregon will finish with a losing record in Pac-12 play if they don’t beat both Arizona State and Oregon State to finish out the season. That may not sound like a big deal, but Mario Cristobal will surely want to finish his first season as head coach on a high note.
Oregon will also be looking to avenge a 37-35 loss at the hands of the Sun Devils last year. Prior to that, the Ducks had a streak of 10 straight wins over Arizona State. Oregon will want to set things right again after last season’s slip-up.
I’ve been riding the Oregon bandwagon for most of the season, but this is where I jump off. As mentioned, it’s tough to blame the Ducks for their recent losses. But it also makes me nervous to eat points in a game where Oregon faces a quality team. At the same time, it’s tough to bet against Arizona State with the way they’ve played recently. Even on the road, I like the Sun Devils to win, or at least beat the spread.
It took a while, but the ASU offense has finally kicked things into gear. The Sun Devils have averaged over 35 points during their recent winning streak, a stark turnaround from earlier in the season. Considering that those games came against the likes of USC and Utah, there’s no denying that the Sun Devils have turned the corner offensively.
Senior quarterback Manny Wilkins is finally performing like one of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-12. He’s been steady and accurate all season, but he’s really stepped up his game the past two weeks. A big reason for that is the Sun Devils are starting to run the ball with more proficiency. Running back Eno Benjamin had some struggles early in the year, but he’s run for at least 175 yards in each of the past three games, scoring five touchdowns over that span. Between Wilkins and Benjamin, ASU has a balanced offensive attack that will be tough for Oregon to contain for four quarters.
At the same time, the Oregon defense has continued to spiral downhill. The Ducks looked somewhat viable on defense early in the year, but in their last four games, they’re giving up 33 points per game. The bigger issue is that they’ve given up 44 points to an inconsistent Arizona team and 32 points to a Utah team playing a backup quarterback. I don’t see things getting much better this week against an Arizona State offense that’s as hot as any in the Pac-12.
To be fair, the Ducks are equally capable of putting points on the board. In terms of pure talent at the quarterback position, Justin Herbert still sets the bar in the Pac-12. However, the Ducks are having a problem running the ball lately, and that’s making it harder for Herbert. Outside of a thrashing against a poor UCLA team, the Ducks have gone three straight games without scoring any more than 25 points. If that trend continues, they’ll have a hard time winning, much less covering four points against ASU.
Despite some offensive struggles from the Ducks in recent weeks, I can see this game evolving into a classic Pac-12 shootout. Normally, that kind of game would favor Oregon. But I think Arizona State is poised to keep up. In fact, the Sun Devils have been the better offensive team over the past month. That makes me feel good about Arizona State at least beating the spread.