The Oregon football team looks to bounce back from a tough loss when it plays host to Arizona State on Saturday night.
Kickoff is 7:20 p.m. for an ESPN broadcast, meaning those of us in the local media who will be putting together coverage of the game will be sweating it out up against deadline.
Reporters will have to crank out stories as quick as possible, and those of us in the office, designing and copy editing, will have to tear through all the content in a frantic attempt to make deadline.
Yeah, it’s fun.
Unfortunately for Duck fans, the action at Autzen Stadium won’t be nearly as exciting.
True freshman quarterback Brock Osweiler gets his first career start for the Sun Devils, not the greatest setup for an ASU team going up against an opponent that’ll be hungry for a big victory.
Autzen Stadium can be a tough atmosphere for even the most veteran of players, but a freshman, in his first start, against a defense that’ll be playing with a chip on its shoulder?
Osweiler looked wide-eyed and overwhelmed in the final minutes of the Sun Devils’ 14-9 loss to USC last weekend, even though it was his touchdown pass late in the third quarter that gave ASU a chance at the end.
After taking over for starter Danny Sullivan, Osweiler finished the game a respectable 11-for-27 for 153 yards, one touchdown and one interception, and was sacked twice.
He’ll come into Saturday night’s game having practiced as the starter all week, and will no doubt be a little more comfortable under center than he looked late in the USC game.
That doesn’t mean the Ducks and their fans won’t get to the youngster.
Oregon is coming off a 51-42 loss at Stanford in which the Ducks’ defense looked porous for the first time this season, giving up 505 yards of offense, including 224 on the ground to running back Toby Gerhart.
After watching film of the loss, the Ducks maintained that they didn’t get run over by the Cardinal but were, instead, done in by missed assignments and bad positioning. The defense will be eager to prove that was the case, and will come out fired up and focused on shutting down the Sun Devils.
Before surrendering 51 points to Stanford, Oregon had given up 58 points combined in its previous five games, which included a home victory over USC and a win at Washington.
I look for the Ducks to return to the stifling, high-energy defense they displayed during their seven-game win streak.
I also expect reinstated running back LeGarrette Blount to see some action in this one, and it could be extended action if Oregon is up big late in the game. UO coaches haven’t said just how much the senior will play, but he will be on the sideline and in an Oregon uniform for the first time since his tirade at Boise.
Blount’s teammates have said they’re happy to have him back, and I suspect his return will provide the team with an emotional boost. Between that, the home crowd and the desire to bounce back after a loss that derailed their BCS hopes, the Ducks will be tough to beat in this one.
Prediction: Oregon 48, ASU 17