Courtesy: UO Sports Information
Facing its first true road test, Oregon (7-0, 4-0 Pac-12) turned what was supposed to be a duel in the desert into another we’ve-seen-this-before rout by running over the Sun Devils in the first half.
The Ducks had their way against what had been the Pac-12’s best defense, racing to a 36-point halftime lead and rushing for 406 yards to win their nation-leading 12th straight road game.
Arizona State (5-2, 3-1) got the start it wanted, forcing a fumble on Oregon’s second play and scoring a touchdown on its first.
The Sun Devils wilted after that, unable to make up for the early loss of star defensive tackle Will Sutton or find a way to slow down the Ducks as they raced past.
Taylor Kelly, the Pac-12’s pass efficiency leader, threw two interceptions that set up Oregon touchdowns in the first half and had 93 yards on 10-of-18 passing while being chased by the Ducks most of the game.
Arizona State’s defense, its anchor through the first six games, allowed 454 total yards, including 48 more rushing than it had the previous four games combined.
Mariota threw for one touchdown, ran for another and had one receiving in his first true road game.
Sun Devil Stadium hadn’t been the stage for a game like this for some time, maybe back to 2005, when Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and No. 1 Southern California beat the Sun Devils 38-28.
Oregon had become the standard for success in the West, winning three straight Pac-12 titles, last season’s Rose Bowl and earning a trip to the BCS title game the year before that.
The Ducks may be even better this season, again scoring points quickly and in bunches, with an improved defense to go with it.
Arizona State was one of the surprises the first half of the season, winning five games and nearly pulling out a sixth under new coach Todd Graham.
To swat down the Ducks on national TV would be a big boost to the Sun Devils, a we-have-arrived moment that would turn the spotlight full blast toward the desert.
More than 70,000 fans showed up for this highly anticipated duel, creating a “black out” with their synchronized black shirts.
The Ducks quickly made it look like they were attending a funeral in the first half.
Arizona State at least got off to a good start, recovering a fumble by Mariota on Oregon’s second play, scoring 7 seconds later on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Kelly to Kevin Ozier.
The game had barely started, but that was about it for the Sun Devils, who lost Sutton for the game and possibly longer to a right knee injury on Mariota’s fumble.
Two plays later, Barner ran up the middle, hesitated for a second and raced 71 yards for a touchdown.
Then it was Mariota to Bralon Addison for a 6-yard touchdown. Mariota was on the receiving end for the next score, catching a 2-yard pass from backup Bryan Bennett, who wriggled the ball forward while in the grasp of two defenders.
The first of Kelly’s two interceptions, by Boseko Lokombo, set up Barner for a 1-yard scoring run. Mariota then raced up the middle 86 yards for a touchdown. Barner scored again on a 1-yard run, again after an interception, this one by Avery Patterson.
Oregon led 43-7 at halftime and had 329 yards rushing, 29 fewer than Arizona State allowed against Colorado, California, Utah and Missouri combined.
The Ducks coasted through the second half, resting many of their starters as Arizona State scored two touchdowns.
It didn’t matter at that point.
Oregon had done enough during its overpowering first half to beat the Sun Devils for the eighth straight time.