Ducks Defeat No. 6 Arizona State 35-23
Nov. 3, 2007
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) -- Dennis Dixon threw four touchdown passes before leaving with an injury, and the fourth-ranked Ducks defeated No. 6 Arizona State 35-23 on Saturday, their second consecutive victory over a Top 10 team.
When it ended, students poured out of the grandstand and mobbed the Ducks at midfield. Last week, the Ducks beat Southern California to set up the West Coast's biggest game of the season.When it ended, students poured out of the grandstand and mobbed the Ducks at midfield. Last week, the Ducks beat Southern California to set up the West Coast's biggest game of the season -- Oregon was in fifth-place in the latest BCS standings while Arizona State was fourth.
'We played inspired on both sides of the ball,' Dixon said. 'And we can enjoy it right now.'
Oregon's victory could be costly. Dixon, a Heisman Trophy contender, was hurt on a run early in the fourth quarter and did not return, though he was up and hopping on the sideline late in the game. Dixon completed 13-of-22 passes for 189 yards and four touchdowns, and he also ran for 57 yards.
'I kind of twisted my knee,' Dixon said. 'It's a little bit sore. But I didn't hear a pop, so that's good.'
On a clear, crisp afternoon in the Willamette Valley, the largest crowd to attend a football game in the state, 53,379, turned out to watch the Ducks (8-1, 5-1 Pac-10) hand the Sun Devils (8-1, 5-1) their first defeat.
Arizona State came into the game as one of five undefeated teams in major college football, with its own hopes for a national title run.
Oregon ended those hopes behind the deft playmaking of Dixon.
'It was just hard for us to contain him, and he just beat us with the run,' ASU receiver Rudy Burgess said.
The Sun Devils also had trouble stopping tailback Jonathan Stewart, who ran for 99 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown
Meanwhile, the Ducks' oft-maligned defense sacked ASU's Rudy Carpenter eight times.
The Ducks jumped ahead 21-3 and never trailed.
'We just wanted to come out and prove ourselves, and I think we did that tonight,' Oregon receiver Aaron Pflugrad said. 'We played for four quarters and got the job done.'
Oregon's lone loss came in the final minute against then-No. 6 California on Sept. 29. That defeat galvanized the Ducks, who have four straight.
Arizona State remains very much in the Rose Bowl picture despite the loss.
'We just have to finish strong,' Burgess said.
Carpenter showed no apparent effects of a sprained right thumb, which was bandaged. Carpenter completed his first seven passes and finished 22-of-36 for 379 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw an interception.
The game pitted the Pac-10's top offense against its toughest defense. The Ducks averaged 43.8 points per game coming in, third in the nation, while the Sun Devils allowed 16.1 points.
The first possessions set the tone. On the game's first snap, Dixon hit Jaison Williams for a 43-yard strike to the Arizona State 33. Three plays later, Williams caught a screen in the right flat and raced 26 yards for a touchdown.
ASU answered with a methodical 11-play, 71-yard march. But with first-and-goal at the Oregon 3, the Ducks repelled Dimitri Nance on three consecutive runs, and the Sun Devils settled for a field goal to cut their deficit to 7-3.
The Ducks led 14-3 after one quarter. It was the fourth time this season Arizona State had faced a double-digit deficit after the first quarter.
Oregon stretched its lead to 21-3 on a seven-play, 75-yard drive early in the second quarter. The touchdown came when Dixon froze the defense with a play fake and found a wide-open Williams for a 27-yard score.
Dixon went 4-for-4 for 56 yards on the drive and ran twice for the other 19 yards.
That's when Arizona State awoke. The Sun Devils answered with 10 points to cut Oregon's lead to 21-13 at halftime.
Oregon took a 28-16 lead midway through the third quarter on a 33-yard touchdown run by Stewart. The Pac-10's leading rusher romped through a huge hole in the middle of the line, cut left and ran over a tackler at the goal line.
Dixon's fourth touchdown pass, a 19-yarder to Drew Davis, gave Oregon a 35-16 lead through three quarters.
Dixon was hurt on the Ducks' next possession, and he was replaced by Brady Leaf, who couldn't move the team.
The Sun Devils pulled within 35-23 on an 11-yard pass from Carpenter to Brent Miller with 5:17 to play.