Ryan Bafaloukos - Co-Managing Editor | @RyanBafo
Josh Nacion - Co-Managing Editor | @Josh_Nacion
Kaelen Jones - Staff Writer | @kaelenjones
Connor Pelton - Staff Writer | @ConnorPelton28
Kristina Vicario - Staff Writer | @KristinaV_18
Blane Ferguson - Staff Writer | @BlaneFerguson
Shane Theodore - Staff Writer | @shanetheodore
Q: After what you've seen the last seven games, do you think ASU's offense has improved, or should people accept the status quo?
Pelton: The offense is still improving. Sure, it looked terrible at Utah, but the Utes have one of the top defenses in the conference (not counting their game last Saturday against USC). The Sun Devil offense had put together two very good performances before the trip to Salt Lake City, and they have had an extra week to prepare for tonight's game against Oregon. What kind of adjustments were made in that extra week should be very telling.
Jones: I wouldn't necessarily call it improved. The offensive line has been a bit more stable, but as a whole, the lack of explosive plays has been disappointing. I'd say peers should be accepting of it, for now.
Vicario: I do think ASU's offense has improved, though not to its full potential. The Sun Devils are still lacking those explosive plays, aside from the ones Tim White has provided them, and struggle to utilize the long ball to stretch the field. One thing that does seem to be improving each game is the pass protection.
Theodore: I really don't know. One day this offense looks like world beaters and the next they look like they're as organized as an intramural flag football team. When they have moderate success early on the ground, the Sun Devils tend to fall into a rhythm but any early adversity seems to handcuff them for the rest of the game. No clue which offense is gonna show up Thursday.
Ferguson: I don't think any fanbase should just accept a status quo, fans are entitled to want successful teams and I don't think it's really my place to tell fans what they should and should not accept. I don't think the offense has improved, but I also think they have a couple upcoming games against less than stellar defenses susceptible to giving up big numbers. With the return of Demario Richard, I would like to think that the offense will look a little more dynamic than they did without him.
Nacion: Today may be the last chance. I have a slight feeling ASU may surge again like in the UCLA game. If the Sun Devils don't get it done here, I don't see how they can pick it up going forward.
Bafaloukos: I think the ASU offense has been hindered by poor offensive line play and injuries. Tim White did not play against Texas A&M, Demario Richard did not play against Utah and Kalen Ballage's first game back was against USC. I want to see what the ASU offense looks like at full strength and I think tonight is we get to see that happen.
Q: Who has been the more disappointing team in your eyes, ASU or Oregon, and why?
Pelton: Oregon. I figured Arizona State would take a step back after losing Jaelen Strong and Damarious Randall, but I didn't think the post-Marcus Mariota era would be such a rough one in Eugene. Granted, star quarterback Vernon Adams has been dinged up and missed some games this year. He now looks to be fully healthy though, so it should be interesting how the Ducks perform from here on out.
Jones: ASU, by far. With Oregon, expectations were tempered with the loss of Marcus Mariota. ASU entered the year with what was considered Graham's most talented group assembled since arriving in Tempe (despite losing four NFL-caliber contributors...!). Not only that, but the Sun Devils became one of the national media's favorite chic Playoff picks coming off the last campaign. This was the year for the Sun Devils to compete as a national contender, yet are still middling in the Pac-12.
Vicario: I'd say Oregon only because people were expecting so much from them after their dominant hold over the Pac-12 last season and despite the loss of Mariota many still thought they possessed the weapons necessary to make a deep run into the playoffs but so far their lack of defense has drastically affected them this season.
Theodore: Oh it has to be ASU, easily. Oregon lost the best quarterback to grace its campus since Dan Fouts when Marcus Mariota left for the NFL. His replacement's pretty darn good too, but Vernon Adams has missed three games due to injury and was pulled early in a fourth after coming back a little too early from the injury.
Two of Oregon's losses came in those games, and the third was an incredibly hard fought game against Michigan State, one of the top teams in the country. Oregon didn't come into this season expecting to make it back to the playoff while Todd Graham talked up this team as his best yet and there was talk of making a run this season. So yeah, ASU's been the bigger disappointment.
Ferguson: I would say Oregon. As much hype as ASU had going into the season, it seemed to me that Oregon and Vernon Adams had more hype than that. Oregon, by no small margin, has been the more successful team in recent history and should have higher expectations than this season. Both teams have been disappointing this season, but I would say the expectations for Oregon were higher.
Nacion: Depends on the criteria. If we're talking with general expectations, I would say Oregon since it started in the top 10. The College Football Playoff runner-ups shouldn't be one game over .500 at this point of the following season.
Bafaloukos: I would say from a national perspective Oregon. ASU's losses have come to three ranked teams (at the time) and two of them on the road, while Oregon has two losses at home including by more than 40 points against Utah. However, Oregon, like ASU, has been hindered by injuries and it looks like they will be pretty close to full strength tonight as well.
Q: Stanford and Utah are the favorites to meet in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Will we see those two play each other, and do you think the winner moves on to the College Football Playoff?
Pelton: I do think it'll be a Stanford-Utah title game, although Washington State could make things very spicy with an upset on the Palouse in a couple days. The winner of the Pac-12 should get a spot in the playoff as long as they finish 12-1. Both the Cardinal and Utes have much easier schedules in the final month of the season than anyone ahead of them, but I think the key here is Stanford's meeting with Notre Dame in the last week of the regular season. That could very well be a de facto "Playoff Quarterfinal" game.
Jones: I think it ends up being Stanford and USC, with Stanford moving on to the College Football Playoff. The Trojans have found form, and I consider Utah vulnerable enough to falter once again this season. Regardless, Stanford isn't stopping its run any time soon. They have a legitimate shot at reaching the Playoff.
Vicario: Yes. I see both Stanford and Utah meeting in the Pac-12 Championship game with Utah coming out on top, giving the Utes a good shot at the CFP selections.
Theodore: I don't see Cal improving enough to knock off Stanford in the North, but USC put together the type of game against Utah that warrants patience in giving the Utes the South title. USC could get hot under Clay Helton and if they do, watch out. That wouldn't be the best case scenario for the conference thought If either Stanford or Utah take one more loss the Pac-12 will be watching the playoff from home.
Ferguson: I do think those will be the teams to represent each division in the conference championship, but I think Stanford is the only team in the conference that could go to the College Football Playoff.
Nacion: That should be the matchup in my eyes, and either has to win out in order for the Pac-12 to make it to the Playoff. Otherwise, I don't see a two-loss Pac-12 team making it.
Bafaloukos: I think if both of them enter the game with one loss it will be hard to keep the winner out. Both of them played challenging nonconference schedules and Utah has perhaps the best nonconference win of any team in the country. I think Stanford has a more realistic chance since they are already top-10 but Utah can work its way back up with a good second half of the season.
For ASU Tonight?
Over/Under: 50 points
How Many Offensive
Touchdowns does ASU
|Who Wins?||Oregon, 38-34||ASU, 27-24||Oregon, 31-20||Oregon, 35-31||ASU, 24-19||Oregon, 38-34||Oregon 35-17|