Over the course of the remaining weeks separating us from the return of Sun Devil football, House of Sparky is taking a week-by-week look at the opponents ASU will face this season. So far we've covered ASU's non-conference schedule as well as their first four Pac-12 opponents of the year. After a stop in Salt Lake City to face the Utes, the Sun Devils will return home to take on the Oregon Ducks on October 29.
Opponent Primer Schedule:
July 8 - Texas A&M - Read
July 13 - Cal Poly - Read
July 15 - New Mexico - Read
July 20 - USC - Read
July 22 - UCLA - Read
July 27 - Colorado - Read
July 29 - Utah- Read
August 3- Oregon
August 5 - Washington State
August 10 - Washington
August 12 - Arizona
August 17 - Cal
Oregon's 2014 Season
Oregon put up one of its best seasons in recent history in 2014. The Ducks went 13-2 last season, 9-1 within the Pac-12 with its only loss by a touchdown coming at the hands of the Arizona Wildcats.
Oregon ranked within the top five of the AP Poll for 12 out of the 16 regular season weeks, outscoring its opponents by an average of 25 points per game.
Redshirt Junior Quarterback Marcus Mariota threw for nearly 300 yards per game, leading his team to a 59-20 Rose Bowl slaughter of an undefeated Florida State team that sent Oregon to the first ever College Football Championship against Ohio State.
Oregon fell to Ohio State 42-20 in a flat defensive game, but Mariota went on to win the 2015 Heisman Trophy for his performance with the Ducks, who placed second in the final AP Poll.
Oregon is currently ranked No.5 in the college football preseason rankings. While the QB1 position remains a question mark for the Ducks, the defense is anchored with veterans and peppered with fresh first round talent that could allow them to have a Pac-12 leading defensive line.
QB Marcus Mariota
The Heisman winner totaled 5,224 yards of total offense last season, throwing for 42 touchdowns and rushing for 15. Mariota was drafted as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Tennesee Titans. Mariota leaves behind a void that will most likely not see the same level of talent for years to come.
SS Erick Dargan
The strong safety led the Ducks defense last season with 95 total tackles, 3.5 for a loss and seven interceptions that resulted in 110 yards in returns. Dargan registered 61 solo tackles and also forced two fumbles, making him one of the biggest losses for the Ducks defensively.
DL Arik Armstead
The 6-foot-7, 292 pound defensive lineman was the 17th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Armstead registered 46 tackles in his 2014 season with the Ducks with 5.5 for a loss, a fumble forced and a fumble recovered, and 2.5 sacks.
RB Royce Freeman
The 5-foot-11, 230-pound sophomore is coming off a 2014 season where he earned Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year honors. The running back rushed for 1, 365 yards and 18 touchdowns.
WR Byron Marshall
The versatile senior receiver led the Ducks receiving corps last season with 1,003 receiving yards and six touchdowns after rushing for over 1,000 yards two seasons ago and 392 yards with a touchdown last season. Marshall is already on the watch list for the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's best receiver heading into this season.
RB Thomas Tyner
The Oregon native combined with the younger Freeman to create a feared running game within Oregon's offense last season. Tyner rushed for 573 yards with 5 touchdowns, and of those, 186 yards and two touchdowns came in the Rose Bowl and Championship game against Florida State and Ohio State respectively.
Reasons for ASU optimism
Despite the threat of a possible Pac-12 leading defensive front this season, the loss of Mariota may be too detrimental for an offense that averaged 312.5 passing yards per game last season. If the Sun Devils are able to shut down the Ducks' running game, one that Oregon will most likely be relying heavily on, and also come up with a solid offensive effort on its own end, ASU has a good chance of stalling the Oregon offense enough to slide by them on its home turf in October.
Reasons for ASU pessimism
On the other hand, there is a chance that ASU QB Mike Bercovici, in his first year replacing Taylor Kelly, will face the same growing pains that Mariota's replacement will. If that happens and the game proves to be a defensive battle, the Sun Devils could be in trouble facing a more seasoned and stout Oregon defense after a season where ASU gave up the most points defensively of any Pac-12 team with a winning record.