Sunday, November 04, 2007


Well that sucked.

So we lost. The sting isn't as bad as it was immediately following the game, but the BCS is looking like a streatch barring a complete catastrophe, not that the 2007 college football season hasn't been without the unbelievable. More on that in a moment, but what the hell happened?

We got beat by a better team but I think Oregon fans will admit that Saturday's game wasn't their best performance. There were several dropped passes by the Ducks, they were without superman Dennis Dixon for the fourth quarter, and the Oregon pass D was less than spectacular. While many doors were left open for ASU throughout the night, the Sun Devils couldn't seem to walk through any of them. Here's my list of gripes:

1) Red zone efficiency. I don't think it's been that bad inside the 20 since 2004, having 1st and goal inside the 5 and settling for three. There were four field goal attempts on the night, one of which was directly caused by poor clock management. ASU had gained momentum for the first time in the game and with a touchdown on the last drive of the 1st half the Devils could have been within one, carrying a positive attitude into the locker room knowing they get the ball to start the second half wiith an opportunity to take the lead. Instead they settle for a missed field goal and momentum swings back to Oregon.

2) ASU play calling. WTF? The ghost of Dirk Koetter haunted Autzen last night, going pass, pass, pass starting midway through the third quarter. When ASU did run, it was only in the most obvious situations. On the first posession the Devils ran between the tackles on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd and goal before kicking a three-pointer. Halfway through the 3rd quarter on 4th and goal as ASU was mounting a comeback, everyone knew the play that was coming once Dmitri Nance lined up in the backfield. Handoff, left side of the line. It burned Washington and Cal for first downs but Oregon had seen the tape and were ready. A quote from Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti, taken from the Arizona Republic:
"On fourth and 1, they always like to run (a certain) play," Aliotti said, "so I said we're going to blitz those linebackers through that gap. We're going to hit it and take a shot. And if they do something else, then maybe we're in trouble, but we blitzed the backers, and it worked."
Loss of two, Duck ball. Oregon inserted that scheme on Saturday morning, hours before kickoff.

After that drive the run-based game plan was completely abandoned. Once Oregon realized we were going all pass, the defense pinned their ears back and blitzed to the tune of six second-half sacks.

3) Luck runs out. How many fumbles has ASU lost this season? What's the Sun Devils' 4th down conversion rate on the season? How many field goals have been missed on the year? What's the red zone conversion rate? Shit happens, and Weber, Thompson, et. al. all picked an extremely bad time to start. As much as I would have loved to lynch those two diuring the game, you really can't blame them as it was a team loss, from coaching on down. All of these errors coupled with playing the early-deficit game finally burned ASU. One can credit Oregon's defense and home-field advantage, but as both Rudy Carpenter and Mike Pollak noted in post game interviews, it all came down to a lack of execution on ASU's part.

4) Oregon is really, really good. Hats off to this Duck team, as Dennis Dixon was everything advdrtised and BOTH Jaison Williams and Jonathan Stewart are the most underrated players at their respective positions in the nation. The defense has it's holes in the secondary, but they stop the run well and they step up as a unit when they have to. The Ducks play focused, smart football; they are confident without being boastful. I heard Dixon say several times this week, including post-game, that everyone on this team "plays within themselves." Keep doing what you do without letting your heads get too big and a trip to New Orleans is probably in your future. Congratulations on your victory, Ducks.

So what's the deal on the big picture? Keep remembering, Devil fans, that the Rose Bowl is still well within reach. Oregon still has to play at Arizona next Thursday night in a game where the punters might as well stay home, then they travel to the Rose Bowl to battle the most bipolar team in college football history, and then they host a bitch of a rivalry game against Oregon State in the annual Civil War clash. If ASU takes care of business and wins out, one can hope the Ducks have a hiccup. I honestly don't want it to go down that way, but I'll take it. A conference championship is a conference championship.

It comes without a ring, but a more honorable way to visit Pasadena in January would be for Oregon to win out and qualify for the national championship game in New Orleans. (they should have jumped LSU in the rankings today, that's total whoreshit but I digress) ASU also wins out and receives an at-large BCS bid, Pac-10 pride holla! the problem is that the BCS hates the Pac-10 more than Les Miles does, and the conference of champions has not put two teams into the BCS since the evil system formed in 1998. There will be stiff competition as there are only two at-large spots available, and here's a quick snapshot of each conference.

The SEC: the eastern division seems to be taking care of itself by knocking each other off in cannibalistic fashion, but a Georgia loss would be nice at some point. We reeeeeeally need LSU to drop a game before the SEC championship game but the schedule is mighty soft. Help us Darren McFadden, you're our only hope. LSU will still get an at-large bid if they lose the SECCG, so they definitely need to win that one. If Oregon didn't skip them after beating the BCS #4, they won't do it for the rest of the year.

The Big Televen: Help a brother out, Zooker. Illinois goes to the horseshoe this Saturday to face Ohio State, and it's the last chance to knock OSU out of the top spot without any reprecussions. If Ohio State loses to Michigan the Buckeyes may still garner an at large bid in the shadow of Michigan's automatic bid, even though strength of schedule is heavily in ASU's favor. Remember that they play near the east coast and ASU desn't have anybody like Brent Musberger campaigning for them. I can't say it enough, the whole world hates the Pac-10.

The Big East: God help us all of the Big East put two teams into the BCS, but luckily it looks impossible. West Virginia has the best case for an at-large bid if UConn wins out but the two face each other on November 24 in an elimination game. No conference championship game to worry about, only eight Big East teams field football squads.

The ACC: Boston College is still ranked ahead of ASU even though THEY LOST AT HOME TO AN UNRANKED TEAM and ASU lost on the road to the hottest team in the country. Whatever. They'll apparently have to lose to another team for ASU to pass them in to an at-large bid, and I'm sure Virginia Tech would love some sweet revenge after deflating at home to BC last Thursday. Not too many worries here, since Tech will have a tough case as a two loss team, even though they have the best case of any two loss team.

The Big XII: ...and here lies the problem. Kansas is undefeated, Missourah has one loss to a badass Oklahoma team, and Oklahoma has one loss but is in the driver's seat in the south. The Sooners have had rough times in their Bedlam Series with Okie State, and this year looks to be no different with the Pokes' offensive firepower. Kansas faces their biggest test so far this week at Okie State, and there will be an elimination game between the Jayhawks and Mizzou on Thanksgiving weekend. If neither team stumbles before Turkey day, the best case scenario for Devil fans will be for Mizzou to win and then lose to Oklahoma. I'm expecting OU to roll in the CG, and even with a weak SOS the Jayhawks could make a strong case for a bid with only one loss to a good Sooner squad. If Kansas wins out, Oklahoma's other loss was early enough that most will forget about it and they won't get dropped too far, probably leaving them neck-and-neck with ASU for the last BCS spot.

Cowboy Pete, Sparky's new friend.

It'll be a bitch, but anything can happen this year. A team that lost to Appalachian State could still go to the Rose Bowl for chrissakes.

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Yeah, UO brought it's B game. With our top 3 receivers out for the season we have to rely on slower and less sure-handed receivers. That's a handicap.

But I thought ASU passed too much. With Oregon bringing so much heat a few draw plays might have worked well. Also, that power sweep play you run is awesome and it could have been used a bit more as well. ASU's play calling was also a B grade.

All that to say, if ASU wins out the BCS will be calling.
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Keep your heads up, ASU is going to a BCS bowl. Hopefully the Rose Bowl with Oregon playing for the National title!
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