Oregon Ducks Rose Bowl Hopes Alive After Beating Arizona State
Oregon Ducks fans could still see their team in the Rose Bowl this year. Those Rose Bowl hopes remained alive when Oregon beat the Arizona State Dun Devils in triple-overtime Thursday, October 29. The 61-55 victory improved the team to 5-3 and kept the team in the race to win the Pac-12 North. There is still a lot of work left for Oregon to do before a Rose Bowl invite could even be considered, but the team still has a shot now.
In the updated Pac-12 standings, the Ducks still trail the Stanford Cardinal and Washington State Cougars in the North. Stanford has no conference losses and WSU has just one, which keeps them ahead of the two-loss Ducks for now. Over the weekend, though, Stanford and WSU play an extremely important game in Pullman. Either the Cardinal or the Cougars will emerge with a conference loss.
In a best-case scenario for the Oregon Ducks, Stanford would pick up another conference loss and then the Ducks would have to beat Stanford in the head-to-head game on November 14. In regard to conference schedules, the Ducks have one of the toughest, with games against California, Stanford, and USC to start the month of November. There is no margin for error, as the team needs to win all its games and then get some help from other schools.After losing to WSU earlier in the season, Oregon also cannot finish in a two-team tie with the Cougars. Doing so will give WSU the tie-breaker due to the head-to-head record. This basically means that Ducks fans need the Cougars to lose two more games this season. In addition to the game coming up against Stanford, Washington State has to play Arizona State, UCLA, Colorado, and Washington (Huskies) in the month of November. It’s a tough schedule that could be very tough for the emerging Cougars.
To summarize, for the Oregon Ducks to make it all the way to the Rose Bowl as a Pac-12 representative this season, a lot has to happen. Oregon needs to win its last four games, Washington State needs to lose twice, and Stanford needs to lose twice. In that scenario, Oregon would then become the Pac-12 North representative in the conference championship game. With three regular season losses, it would rule the team out of the College Football Playoff, but guarantee a Rose Bowl berth for winning the Pac-12 title game.
The offensive output that Oregon had against Arizona State gives the team a positive outlook. Vernon Adams finished with 315 passing yards and four touchdowns, while Royce Freeman rushed for 112 more yards and two touchdowns of his own. Both players are doing exceedingly well for the Ducks, but the issue hasn’t been about the team not scoring enough points.
A big question mark for the Oregon Ducks, and the biggest obstacle to a spot in the Rose Bowl, is the defense. Arizona State just passed for 398 yards and ran for another 344 yards on Thursday night. Allowing 742 yards and still finding a way to win is a big deal, but it’s not something that the team can continue to do. Oregon has now given up the fifth-most yards in college football and allows an average of 497 yards per game. That’s in addition to giving up an average of 38.4 points per game. Those numbers have to come down, because the Ducks cannot expect to score 61 points against every opponent.While it might be easy for opposing fans to count the Oregon Ducks out of Rose Bowl contention, the reality is that the school still has an outside shot at making it back to the top of the Pac-12 this year. The next step for the Ducks is a November 7 game against California at home.
[Photo by: Norm Hall/Getty Images]