Two weeks ago, the Ducks (4-1, 1-1) took an early 13-0 lead over two-time defending national champion USC, only to be dominated the rest of the way and lose 45-13 to the top-ranked Trojans.
The disappointment from that defeat wore off in a hurry. Kellen Clemens threw for three touchdowns in Oregon’s 44-20 victory at Stanford last Saturday, and the Ducks jumped back into the latest AP poll at No. 25.
“As the week went on, guys just got real hungry,” said Oregon’s Demetrius Williams, who had six receptions for 168 yards. “We lost to USC and I think we came out here and gave it our all. It’s always important to get a big win to boost your confidence. It also lets people know we’re for real.”
The Sun Devils (3-2, 1-1) showed they’re for real with their performance last week against USC, but came away stinging from a 38-28 defeat. Arizona State wasted a 21-3 halftime lead, and would drop three spots in the rankings this week to No. 17.
“What we can take from this is that we’re just as good as them,” ASU quarterback Sam Keller said. “It’s horrible that we couldn’t win, but I can look anybody dead in the eye and say that we are one of the best teams in the country.”
Keller threw five interceptions in the loss after entering the game having thrown 125 consecutive passes without one.
“Sam’s got a lot of ball ahead of him and I’m sure he’ll be fine,” Sun Devils coach Dirk Koetter said. “Sam just tried to do a little bit too much.”
Keller is looking to rebound as quickly as Clemens, who completed just 15 of 30 passes for 168 yards in Oregon’s loss to USC. He went 22-of-29 for 393 yards against Stanford, though he did throw his first interception of the season.
“We’re excited. (Being) 4-1 is pretty good right now, getting ready to go play the Devils,” Clemens said. “We have a talented group and a lot of depth, too.”
A loss for either team would be devastating. A second conference defeat would likely end Oregon’s hopes of gaining a BCS bowl berth, and the Sun Devils’ overall record would fall to .500.
Clemens has completed only 19 of 38 passes for 203 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in two games against the Sun Devils.
Arizona State has won the last three meetings by a combined 132-69 score, including a 28-13 victory at Autzen Stadium last season. The Ducks haven’t won at Sun Devil Stadium since 2000, when Joey Harrington led Oregon to a 56-55 double-overtime victory.