Kenjon Barner and Oregon ran away from Arizona State early and often Thursday night in Tempe. (US Presswire)
OREGON WON: It was not pretty for Arizona State, nor anybody associated with the team, thanks to what Chip Kelly's crew had in store for them in the 1st half. From the first series it seemed like it would be an interesting contest as defensive lineman Davon Coleman recovered a fumble from Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota and Taylor Kelly tossed a touchdown pass on the very next play to put the Sun Devils on top 7-0.
And then it was over.
Oregon scored 43 unanswered the rest of the half and that was all she wrote. It was an impressive victory and more than the flashy plays or tons of points, it showed that the No. 2 team in the country could go on the road, face some adversity early and respond by blowing their opponent out.
WHY OREGON WON: The rushing attack in this offense puts a ton of pressure on opponents and when Sun Devils defensive linemen Will Sutton and Junior Onyeali were hurt in the 1st quarter, it's not hard to see why this turned into a rout. As the folks over at CollegeFootballTalk pointed out, Oregon rushed for more yards (329) in the 1st half than two FBS teams -- Washington State (284) and Tulane (113) -- have all season. When Kenjon Barner, Marcus Mariota and Bryan Bennett among others are moving like that against a defense, it's easy to see why the Ducks coasted for the most part. They even had a touchdown drive that took 4:20 off the clock, an eternity for this team. Credit must also be given to the defense, which picked off Taylor Kelly (the nation's No. 3 most efficient passer coming into this week) twice early in the game to set up scores and was attacking all night long in containing ASU's "high octane" offense.
WHEN OREGON WON: Down by a touchdown after their first series, the Ducks scored on a Barner 71-yard romp and nailed the two-point conversion to quickly re-take the lead. Two long scoring drives put Oregon firmly in the driver's seat and after Boseko Lokombo snagged an interception and returned it inside the 10 yard line, the blowout was on as the offense punched it for another touchdown three plays later. Seeing how good this Ducks team has looked one could say that they won as soon as they got off the plane and boarded the buses to Tempe but in reality it was right after that second series.
WHAT OREGON WON: For most of their games this season, the highly ranked Ducks have been banished to late kickoff windows and/or The Pac-12 Networks. Translation: Not many people have had a chance to watch them outside of the West Coast. Administrators, coaches and players have complained about it for various reasons but the bottom line for the team's national title chances is that people need to see how good they are. That happened with the prime time Thursday night match up against a ranked Arizona State that was a trendy pick to pull off the upset as they "Blacked out" the stadium. Oregon wound up winning the game in impressive fashion and made a statement to the rest of the country that they should be taken seriously -- especially down there in SEC territory.
WHAT ARIZONA STATE LOST: Their top 25 ranking will be gone by Sunday but, outside of a few injuries, it wasn't a wasted game for the team. Though the Sun Devils gave up more points in the 1st half than they did in their past three games, there was the encouraging sign that players didn't give up and fought hard in the 2nd half -- something they would not have done a year ago under the previous coaching staff. It didn't look great if one is scanning the box score or watching highlights of Ducks reach the end zone time after time after time but ASU didn't waive the white flag when the game was out of hand. Yes, they lost but they didn't lose like other teams have by lying down and that's an encouraging sign if you're a fan.
THAT WAS CRAZY: Kenjon Barner is a very fast running back and, apparently, has magical Jedi powers to push away defenders with the mere wave of a hand (via @cjzero).