Oregon’s recent trips to the desert have not gone well at all and the trend looks like it’s continuing on Saturday night.
The No. 6 Ducks had one good offensive drive but otherwise were on their heels as they trailed 10-7 to Arizona State in a rather uneven game for both sides upon reaching the midway mark in Tempe.
Offensively, UO was solid enough but stringing together enough plays to move the sticks consistently wasn’t quite in the cards through two quarters. Justin Herbert threw for 111 yards on 8-of-14 passing but was mostly focused on handing the ball off to the ground game. CJ Verdell had 59 yards on 11 carries, Travis Dye added another 30 and scoring machine Cyrus Habibi-Likio punched in a short touchdown.
Maybe more concerning for the conference and College Football Playoff contenders were the lack of their trademark defense coming through. QB Jayden Daniels didn’t throw an incompletion until the final drive of the half in passing for 191 yards and a TD while scrambling several times for good gains as well. The wideout tandem of Brandon Aiyuk and Frank Darby were particularly effective in breaking out big gains, with the latter already accounting for 99 yards and the lone Sun Devils touchdown.
As a result, as improbable as it seems, ASU took their first lead in a game since Oct. 12 in the closing minute against Washington State. It’s been that kind of run for a team that has dropped four in a row but Herm Edwards’ crew is fired up and playing well enough against one of the conference heavyweights so far.
It goes without saying that Oregon needs to pick things up if they want to escape with a win, much less get a few style points to impress the Selection Committee.