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ASU Football Opponent Primer: Oregon Ducks

Week four.

Oregon v Oregon State Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Arizona State 2017 Schedule

New Mexico State (Aug. 31) — Read

San Diego State (Sept. 9) — Read

At Texas Tech (Sept. 16) — Read

Oregon (Sept. 23)

At Stanford (Sept. 30)

Washington (Oct. 14)

At Utah (Oct. 21)

USC (Oct. 28)

Colorado (Nov. 4)

At UCLA (Nov. 11)

At Oregon State (Nov. 18)

Arizona (Nov. 25)

Oregon’s 2016 season

The 2016 Oregon Ducks were very much like last year’s Arizona State Sun Devils in which each had a great offense and an obviously poor, headache creating defense. But Oregon had its statistics even more skewed as the Ducks ranked 27th in the nation in scoring 35.4 points per game, but sat 126th out of 128 teams in total defense, allowing 41.4 points per game.

Oregon was picked at No. 22 in the preseason AP poll before winning its first two games against UC Davis and Virginia, then losing five in a row. But all losing streaks come to an end, and Oregon’s just happened to come against the beaten up and injury worn Sun Devils. With freshman quarterback Dillon Streling-Cole in the pocket, Arizona State was outmatched and fell 54-35 in Autzen Stadium.

After their win over ASU, the Ducks wore a 3-5 record with bowl eligibility in the horizon. But the Ducks fell in three of their last four games, including a 34-24 loss in the Civil War against arch rival Oregon State. Oregon ended the season 4-8 and without a bowl birth for the first time since 2004.

Key Returners

Senior RB Royce Freeman — If Freeman didn’t battle the knee injury he went through last season, he’d likely be in the NFL. After two 1,000-yard plus, 19-touchdown seasons, Freeman earned just 945 rushing yards last season, but still led the team. With a healthy return, Freeman could turn into his 1,838-yard sophomore self and maintain Oregon’s electric run offense.

Sophomore QB Justin Herbert — The same freshman quarterback who threw for 489 yards and four touchdowns in a 54-35 blowout win over Arizona State will be back again, but this time he’ll be a year older and wiser. While Herbert did shine against the lowly-rated ASU pass defense, he earned just one more 300-yard or greater game in his last four coming against Utah.

Sophomore Linebacker Troy Dye — Oregon was most definitely not known for its defense, but at least the Ducks return their leading tackle and sack getter. As just a freshman, Dye led the Ducks with 91 total tackles and 5 12 sacks. With bloated first-year stats, he earned a spot onto the ESPN and USA TODAY All-American freshman teams.

Biggest Losses

Senior WR Darren Carrington — Carrington was dismissed from the program after he received a DUI in early July, and to make matters worse for the Ducks, he is taking his talents to Utah. Carrington, who led the Ducks with 606 receiving yards on 43 catches last season, will be eligible to play immediately for the Utes and faces his former Ducks in Eugene on Oct. 28.

QB Dakota Prukop — In just one season of eligibility with the Ducks, Prukop took the starting quarterback job by storm. Prukop was able to accumulate 1,214 yards and eight touchdowns in six games for the Ducks, but lost his job to Herbert, the highly-touted freshman. While Prukop may not have been a factor towards the end of the season, the Ducks have lost a solid quarterback.

WR Dwayne Stanford — In what was a very young 2016 Oregon team, the Ducks lost one of their leaders in Stanford. Stanford showed his potential in 2014, as he made 43 catches for 639 yards, but only had 189 total yards in his senior season.

Reason for Optimism

If Oregon’s defense is as shaky as it was last season and the Sun Devils actually have a starting quarterback (unlike last year’s matchup), this should be a highly competitive game. Arizona State will need to score in bunches and score plenty, but can definitely muscle out a win. Home field advantage will help as well.

Reason for Pessimism

Oregon brings back the core of its running offense with Freeman and Tony Brooks-James. Its young defense highlighted by underclassmen last season can only inprove. And Herbert comes back for what could be a dangerous sophomore season. Lastly, it’s been over a decade since the Sun Devils beat the Ducks, as their last win over Oregon came in October of 2014. Oregon holds a 10 game winning streak over Arizona State.