The Sun Devils are on a two-game losing streak and dealing with a plethora of injuries, while the Ducks are looking to put an end to a five-game losing streak of their own.
ASU is without several key players, as listed starters quarterback Manny Wilkins, running back Demario Richard, cornerback Kareem Orr, safety Armand Perry, linebacker Salamo Fiso, and left guard Sam Jones are each sitting out of Saturday’s game. Receiver Cameron Smith is also being held out.
Starting center AJ McCollum, who was a late scratch ahead of ASU’s loss last week, is dressed, but is not playing.
The injury bug has even managed to have an impact during the game, too.
On the offense’s opening possession, starting left guard Stephon McCray suffered an injury, forcing him out of the game. Linebacker Koron Crump briefly left the game when he injured his right knee while recording his ninth sack of the season in the second quarter.
Still, the losses haven’t completely neutralized the ASU offense, despite just a 14-point output through two quarters.
Oregon’s offense found the end zone first when freshman quarterback Justin Herbert (20 of 24, 320 yards, three touchdowns) connected with tight end Pharaoh Brown (seven catches, 129 yards, two touchdowns) in the flat, before the 6-foot-6, 245-pound senior scooted 72 yards down the sideline just under three minutes into the game.
ASU responded, as Dillon Sterling-Cole (7 of 14, 98 yards, one interception) helped conduct a six-play, 75-yard scoring drive capped by a 12-yard run by Kalen Ballage (eight carries, 23 yards, one touchdown) out of the Sparky formation. A 35-yard completion from Sterling-Cole to Ballage on a reverse flea flicker keyed the possession.
Oregon answered on its ensuing series, when Herbert found receiver Charles Nelson from 31 yards out to gain a 14-7 advantage with 7:32 left in the first quarter.
After a 36-yard Aidan Schneider field goal extended the Ducks’ lead to 17-7, the Sun Devils cut into the deficit on their next drive, when Sterling-Cole broke the plane on a one-yard run, making the score 17-14 entering the second quarter.
Schneider connected on field goals from 37 and 30 yards out to give the Ducks a 23-14 lead with minutes left in the half.
Then, an interception by Kaulana Apelu—the Ducks’ first forced turnover in 14 quarters—set up the Oregon offense on the ASU 32, before Herbert found Brown for the second time, giving Mark Helfrich’s unit a 30-14 lead with nine seconds left before half.
New starters on offense for ASU
The absence of Wilkins has made way for Sterling-Cole to make his first career start. He’s the first true freshman quarterback to start for ASU since Brock Osweiler did so in 2009.
Junior walk-on center Tyler McClure is starting in place of McCollum for his second career start.
Key Stats at the Half
The Ducks logged 413 yards of total offense (93 rushing, 320 passing). The Sun Devils have managed 195 yards (73 rushing, 122 passing).
Oregon has converted 3 of 9 third downs, but has also converted on two fourth-down attempts. ASU is 1 of 6.
The Ducks have run 46 total plays and are averaging 9.0 yards per play. The Sun Devils have attempted 34 plays and are averaging 5.7.