Friday, November 02, 2007

Game of the Week

Choose between these two players for the Heisman Trophy:

Player No. 1 has completed 68.75% of his passes for 1,885 yards and 16 touchdowns. Three of his passes have been intercepted and he has a quarterback rating of 160.3. In addition, he has run for 492 yards and eight touchdowns.

Player No. 2 has completed 60.96% of his passes for 2,433 yards and 19 touchdowns. Eight of his passes have been intercepted and he has a quarterback rating of 131.5. In addition, he has run for 16 yards and one touchdown.

If you gave the statistical edge to player No. 2, congratulations, you are a winner! Or at least that is what the Heisman Pundit's straw poll says, which has player No. 2 — Boston College's Matt Ryan — ahead of player No. 1 — Oregon's Dennis Dixon.

Go figure.

Still plenty of time to sort this out, but Dixon can score big points Saturday when the Ducks, No. 5 in the Bowl Championship Series standings, play host to undefeated Arizona State, No. 4 in the BCS. It's the Wiz's Game of the Week.

Oregon has been bid up to an eight-point favorite, in part because Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter has an injury to the thumb on his throwing hand. But these Sun Devils have proven to be a resilient bunch, and they could have the Ducks right where they want them.

Enough of our yakkin'. Let's get to the real experts to break it down. Representing the Oregon Ducks, we have Dave of Addicted to Quack. And representing Arizona State, we have Mark of Pitchfork Nation.

First, let's hear from Dave: "The two teams that nobody thought would be here. The game that, when TV schedules first came out, was not scheduled for a national broadcast. Guess these two teams saw it and gave Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen a big F.U.

"It comes down to this. The Sun Devils are good, but they're not that good. They've played almost exclusively at home and against so-so teams. They are completely unprepared for the Autzen Zoo.

"Their defensive line can be pushed around (and we have the best offensive line in team history). This means big holes for Jonathan Stewart. And Oregon has a playmaking QB in Dixon who can make things happen even when a defense is playing well.

"Unlike USC, the ASU defense is not fast enough to keep up with the read option. Translation — bunches of points for the Ducks.

"Meanwhile, Carpenter is immobile and will go up against a very good Oregon pass rush. He has not played well when under pressure. Plus, he may be injured. That, coupled with Oregon's penchant for big plays on defense, give the Ducks the breathing room they need.

"The Ducks won't totally shut down the ASU offense, but with Dixon and Stewart running over everybody, they don't have to."
It's time for the rebuttal, so we turn it over to Mark: "Last year, Arizona State gave the sorriest performance I've ever seen against Oregon (a 48-13 Duck victory at Tempe), highlighted by Carpenter's six of 19 performance for a whopping 33 passing yards and an interception. That team was in shambles. What a difference a coach makes.

"Dennis Erickson has molded this team into a winner. The defense is completely different with surprise newcomers, including safety Troy Nolan and defensive end Luis Vasquez.

"Our corners shut down a couple of big threat receivers in the second half against Cal last week after it seemed most in the media had already written off the Sun Devils as pretenders. Nolan, Justin Tryon and Omar Bolden have turned the secondary into one of our main strengths instead of our greatest weakness. Oregon receiver Jaison Williams is about to find out how strong.

"Oregon has been the more visible team, with the mainstream media being able to tag them with the identity of having a "dual-threat" quarterback and playing in a stadium that makes it impossible for a road team to succeed (unless you're the Cal Bears, the awful Arizona Wildcats of last season, or Arizona State under Dirk Koetter).

"All the Oregon hype ends Saturday, as Arizona State continues its undefeated season."

Our thanks to Image of Sport for the photo of Dixon.

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