For those who pay attention to the sort of thing, the point spread for Thursday night’s Oregon-Arizona State game presented an interesting conundrum to college football fans everywhere. The Ducks opened as a double-digit favorite, yet as the game got closer and closer, the spread only continued to get smaller and smaller. And frankly, no one could quite figure out why.
Well, for at least for a few seconds, the folks in Vegas looked smart. Arizona State scored the first points of the game just 49 seconds in, and for all intents and purposes, it looked like the beginning stages of one of the biggest upsets in college football this season.
Yeah, not so much.
After falling down 7-0, Oregon scored 43 straight points in the first half, to cruise to a 43-21 victory. To be blunt, the game was probably more one-sided than the final score might have indicated.
For Oregon, they truly were outstanding on both sides of the ball.
Starting with the offense (if only because that’s where we always start with the Ducks), this particular Oregon club seems to be as lethal as any Ducks team since Chip Kelly took over in 2009. Marcus Mariota is providing a true dual-threat at the quarterback spot, and incredibly finished with more than three times as many yards rushing (135) as he did through the air (46). However when Mariota did drop back to pass he was nearly perfect, completing nine of 12 passes, including a touchdown pass to Bralon Addison which was about as perfectly thrown a ball as you’ll ever see. Kenjon Barner also finished the evening with a ho-hum 143 yards and three touchdowns as well.
However the real revelation on Thursday night might’ve been a defense that was better than most college football fans seemed to realize. Arizona State entered the game averaging over 40 points a game, but was basically held scoreless by Oregon. Besides the one-play touchdown “drive” to open the game, the Sun Devils didn’t score again until late in the fourth quarter, when the game was already out of reach. In between, Oregon dominated in every way possible, forcing four turnovers in the process.
And for Oregon, this really was the signature win they’d been waiting for. This wasn’t a late Saturday night game when half the nation was asleep, or a mid-afternoon matchup with an inferior Pac-12 foe when the game was decided before the ball was even kicked off. Instead it was an evening game, with all of college football world watching, and it’s safe to say that the college football world was definitely impressed.
The best part is, that for college football fans, the fun is just beginning with the Ducks.
It’s no secret that Oregon is playing at a level few teams can match right now, but over the next few games we’ll find out if they’re true National Championship contenders or not. In the next five weeks the Ducks will play three ranked teams, including two (USC and Oregon State on the road). Stanford comes to Autzen Stadium in between, and even if Oregon wins out, they’ll still have to get through one more game to play for a Pac-12 title.
It’s been a fun seven games for the 2012 Oregon Ducks, but for people who follow college football, the best is yet to come.
For Oregon, they can only hope that their best is yet to come as well. Their best could very well lead them to Miami, site of the 2013 BCS National Championship Game.
For all his opinion, insight and articles on college football, follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.