EUGENE, Ore.--After Arizona State QB Brock Osweiler burned the Oregon defense in the first half , and the Sun Devils came out for the third quarter and rumbled 67 yards to take the lead 28-24, it sure looked like they had the Ducks reeling.
The rain was pouring down. Star running back LaMichael James was already out for the game with an injury, so when starting QB Darron Thomas was knocked out of the game with a leg injury, things seemed pretty shaky for the Ducks. Unproven redshirt freshman Bryan Bennett entered the game to face a defense that had already forced 19 turnovers in its past five games.
However, Bennett, a fantastic athlete who was a standout prep triple jumper in Southern California, deftly handled Chip Kelly's spread-option attack. An Oregon running game which had sputtered for just 58 rushing yards on 16 carries, with no run longer than 16 yards in the first half, got into a rhythm rolling up 168 third-quarter rushing yards as speedsters Kenjon Barner and freshman sensation DeAnthony Thomas and Bennett blazed through the ASU defense for one big play after another. Oregon with its back-up QB responded with consecutive TD drives totally two minutes and 55 seconds and the Ducks cruised to a 35-24 lead while their D clamped down on Osweiler, limiting him to just four yards of passing in the third quarter.
For Bennett, shining in a relief appearance is nothing new. Back in his high school days at Crespi High, he once stepped into the line-up when starting QB Kevin Prince (now at UCLA) went down with a knee injury. Bennett would go on to lead Crespi to a win over local powerhouse Mater Dei, quarterbacked by Matt Barkley. After the game Saturday night Bennett told me that experience helped him "so much" to handle this situation, saying it taught him the importance of staying poised.
Oregon moves to 5-1, while ASU, drops to 5-2 and suffers its first loss in conference play.