Here are some stats that you can analyze when comparing the upcoming matchup this Thursday. Try and let the stats talk and then draw your conclusion...easier said than done.
Defense - Ranks 8th in YPG (272.67), 5th in Yards Per Play (3.92), and have only given up 11 TD's while defending 417 plays.
33rd in 3rd Down Defense allowing 34.34% conversions.
#2 in PED(Pass Efficiency Defense), #38 Run Defense 128.00 YPG and 3.23 YPA
56) Cal - Total Offense 416.57 YPG, 5.98 YPP (Yards Per Play), and 25 Touchdowns in 488 Plays.
ASU W 27-17 Cal 3-4
103) Colorado - 327.33 YPG, 4.64 YPP, and 17 TD's in 423 Plays
ASU W 51-17 Colorado 1-5
105) Missouri - 323.71 YPG, 4.73 YPP, and 20 TD's in 479 Plays
ASU L 20-24 Missouri 3-4
111) Illinois - 309.57 YPG, 4.64 YPP, and 17 TD's in 467 Plays
ASU W 45-14 Illinois 2-5
114) Utah - 302.67 YPG, 4.60 YPP, and 18 TD's in 395 Plays
ASU W 37-7 Utah 2-4
ASU Offense - Ranks 24th with 479.00 YPG, 6.43 YPP, and 32 TD's in 447 Plays.
42nd in 3rd Down Conversions at 44.58%.
4th in Passing Efficiency with a rating of 173.95
42nd in Rushing Offense with 187.83 YPG and 4.32 YPA (Yards Per Attempt)
35) Utah - Allowed 350.67 YPG, 5.26 YPP, and 19 TD's in 400 Plays Defended.
42) Missouri - Allowed 356.14 YPG, 5.18 YPP, and 23 TD's in 481 Plays Defended.
52) Illinois - Allowed 376.43 YPG, 5.91 YPP, and 29 TD's in 446 Plays Defended.
79) Cal - Allowed 418.71 YPG, 5.22 YPP, and 23 TD's in 561 Plays Defended.
113) Colorado - Allowed 494.17 YPG, 6.63 YPP, and 32 TD's in 447 Plays Defended.
Defense- Ranks 43rd in YPG (359.83), 15th YPP (4.55), and have given up 14 TD's in defending 474 Plays.
10th in 3rd Down Defense allowing 29.17% conversions.
#10 PED, #37 Run Defense 126.83 YPG and 3.52 YPA
4) Arizona - 551.33 YPG, 6.09 YPP, and 29 TD's in 543 Plays
Oregon W 49-0 Arizona 3-3
28) Fresno St - 469.29 YPG, 6.11 YPP, and 33 TD's in 538 Plays
Oregon W 42-25 Fresno St 4-3
36) Arkansas St - 448.71 YPG, 6.05 YPP, and 28 TD's in 519 Plays
Oregon W 57-34 Arkansas St 4-3
93) WSU - 362.86 YPG, 5.15 YPP, and 17 TD's in 493 Plays
Oregon W 51-26 WSU 2-5
109) Washington - 317.50 YPG, 4.69 YPP and 17 TD's in 406 Plays
Oregon W 52-21 Washington 3-3
Oregon Offense - Ranks 8th with 541.67 YPG, 6.47 YPP, and 43 TD's in 502 Plays.
T15th in 3rd Down Conversions at 50%
26th in Passing Efficiency with a rating of 149.96
4th in Rushing Offense with 302.33 YPG and 5.83 YPA
29) Fresno St - 338.00 YPG, 4.87 YPP, and 21 TD's in 486 Plays Defended
40) Washington - 355.17 YPG, 5.48 YPP, and 20 TD's in 389 Plays Defended
51) Arkansas St - 376.29 YPG, 5.14 YPP, and 26 TD's in 512 Plays Defended
102) WSU - 462.57 YPG, 5.79 YPP, and 27 TD's in 559 Plays Defended
110) Arizona - 478.83 YPG, 5.82 YPP, and 26 TD's in 494 Plays Defended
There are a few arguments on both sides to be had in my opinion. If I'm arguing that ASU is better I will point out Pass Efficiency on both sides of the ball, that the schedule was against opponents from better conferences even though the loss to Missouri is there they play in the SEC. I might also point out that Oregon struggled in the first half against WSU on the road and second half against Fresno St at home. I would also point out that Oregon's rushing stats may be skewed as they have faced less than stellar run defenses with Fresno St (65) which allows 159.71 per game and 4.01 YPA. That run defense would be among the worst that ASU has played. I would also point out that we also run a lot of plays, are physical, and have a lot of speed too.
On the other hand if I'm arguing for Oregon I'd say that of all ASU's opponents only Cal (60) and Missouri (74) was in the Top 75 Pass Efficiency Defenses in the country and that all 5 FBS opponents Oregon played were in the Top 75 PED. I would also argue that out of the Offenses ASU has played, Utah was the highest ranked in Pass Efficiency Defense at 62. As far as schedule goes I would point out that Fresno State beat Colorado 69-14 in Boulder and has one of the best throwing QB's in the country. I would say that Utah isn't the same Utah since Wynn retired and the loss to Missouri now looks worse by the week. I would give you credit for the Cal win which looks better by the week. The last thing I might point to is the shutout of Arizona was a very good win even though they have lost 3 straight they were all to currently ranked opponents and Arizona was a few plays away from being a 5 win team. The last thing I would say is the Washington win will look better as the season goes on as they too have only lost to ranked teams...highly ranked teams.
I think fans from both sides can twist the stats and make them speak in favor of their team. With that in mind I looked to ESPN to get their early take.
Now, almost everyone would probably agree with ESPN Pac-12 Blogger Ted Miller that ASU will be by far the toughest test Oregon has faced all season. I agree with that to some extent, heck I told my good friend and Oregon Legend, Dino Philyaw two weeks ago that I felt ASU could beat Oregon and here's why:
The game is Thursday night, national spotlight and Oregon has had a history of bad luck in the Desert mainly Tuscan, but it's still a hostile environment and the Ducks really struggled in their only road game this season against lowly WSU on a neutral field. It's also much hotter there which evens the playing field as far as conditioning goes. It's only Mariota's second road start and Oregon will get ASU's best shot especially early in the game. For first year coach Todd Graham this is a chance for him to showcase what he has done to turn the program around so quickly and I have a sneaking suspicion that ASU was prepping at least mentally for the Ducks the week of the Colorado game. I realize no coach would ever admit that but I can promise you by the way they came out in the first half it sure looked like they were looking ahead. Also there is no pressure for ASU to win as they go in as a 12-point underdog. Further more ASU has Taylor Kelly one of the nations most efficient QB's and they have plenty of speed on both sides of the ball. Will Sutton is a undersized monster on defense, they do good things on special teams, and most of all they don't make too many mistakes. The last two years ASU has played Oregon very tough and have really given the Ducks all they could handle and this year I believe they come in with more confidence than ever before. The last thing that really concerns me is Oregon has turned the ball over a lot this year which is consistent with youth at key positions and if they do that vs ASU on the road it could be a long desert night.
That was the why and here is the why not:
As immature Oregon is on offense at times, they make up for it on defense. Oregon defense is highly talented with a lot of speed and a very high IQ. It's not just that they make stops, it's how they make them that is impressive. You have guys that understand where to be on most plays and this year I just haven't seen them out of position a whole bunch. There are a few times every game but that will happen. The defense has defended 474 plays vs ASU Offense which has run 447 plays. Also Oregon's offense has run 502 plays vs ASU's defense which has defended 417 plays. Oregon has also faced 4 different variations of the No Huddle Spread Attack this year. Most of the guys playing on defense have faced Cam Newton and Russel Wilson. That is the reason that I was not worried about Matt Scott a few weeks back, but Taylor Kelly is better than Matt Scott. It will be interesting to see if Oregon's defense can get to Kelly and put him in the dirt a few times early. If they can get consistent pressure without having to blitz each time they should have success. On offense I think Oregon will need to deal with ASU coming out juiced on defense and no doubt they will be trying to punch Oregon in the mouth early. For the Ducks it's going to be about establishing the run game and 3rd down efficiency.
As a slight contradiction to what I stated above and with the distraction of losing Isaac Remington indefinitely I think Oregon's defense may struggle a bit early in the desert. I think they will make plays down the stretch similar to what you saw in the Rose Bowl last year. I look for Mariota to have a much better game than the last time on the road. I think DAT will have a breakout performance because ASU will not put their entire focus on stopping him as the last 3 opponents have. I also think DAT will get more touches at RB inside the tackles. I don't think Oregon will run away from the Devils early but I do think as the game goes on Oregon will find it's way and wear the Devils down while posting a 10 point win.
Don't be surprised if: Oregon trails by two scores early. If Oregon loses the turnover battle by 1 or 2 but wins on special teams (DAT big return). If the defense makes big plays down the stretch. I'm completely wrong and Oregon dominates from start to finish (It's quite possible).
Scoring Range: Oregon 42-52 points depending on TO's & Special Teams and ASU 24-35 depending on TO's & Special Teams.
On a neutral field I would favor Oregon BIG but since it's in Tempe on Thursday night "Buyer Beware" I would take the over and stay away from the line this week,
Ducks get a hard fought win 44-34.