This weekend, the Oregon Ducks will play their last Saturday game of the 2023 regular season, heading down to the desert to face off with the Arizona State Sun Devils. This will be the 49th meeting between these two schools, and likely their last meeting for quite some time due to conference realignment in 2024. While the Ducks have been a better program historically, the Sun Devils have shocked Oregon plenty of times in recent years, especially at home.
Of the 38 previous matchups between Oregon and Arizona State, the Ducks have won 20 and the Devils have won 18, including the most recent matchup in 2019. During that last game, Oregon was down 21-24 in the fourth quarter with a good chance at winning, but the Devils silenced the Ducks with a touchdown from Brandon Aiyuk, the now San Francisco 49ers WR, in the final minutes.
In 2017 the Ducks lost to the Sun Devils 37-35 in Tempe, Arizona, in a similar fashion to the 2019 game. Oregon had the lead will five minutes left, but they surrendered a late field goal and couldn’t come back.
Arizona State won the first game between these two schools back in 1966. It would be seven years before the Ducks and the Devils played each other again, and they didn’t start playing each other regularly until the 1980s when Arizona State joined the Pac-10. It wasn’t until the game in 1989 — the 10th matchup between these two teams — that the Ducks finally got a win.
While Arizona State dominated the first several games of this rivalry and has stolen key victories from Oregon in recent years, the Ducks have had a strong grip on this matchup for most the the 21st century. Since 2000, Oregon is 13-5 against the Sun Devils and had a 10-game win streak from 2005 to 2017.
Going down to Tempe in late November makes the nerves of Ducks fans everywhere flare up — and rightfully so. But to me, something about this year feels different. The 2017 team was led by Willie Taggart, and Mario Cristobal was at the helm in 2019. Dan Lanning as head coach just makes this team feel different. As we saw in his Monday press conference, Lanning clearly has a different mindset regarding his career path than Cristobal or Taggart did, which is a big reason why this year’s team is as connected as it is. I don’t expect Oregon fans to feel secure going into this Saturday, but I don’t think they should be as worried as in past years.