Koetter's Sun Devils Try To Stun Ducks At Autzen
Oct. 16, 2002
By JUSTIN EINHORN
AP MegaSports Writer
Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter contributed to Oregon's rise to prominence.Now his team can deal a major blow to his former school's hopes for anational title.
Koetter's Sun Devils, unbeaten in Pac-10 play, try to pull off a big upsetSaturday as they visit the sixth-ranked Ducks.
The winner of this matchup will be leading the conference along withWashington State, which is 3-0 in league play.
Koetter will need a top-notch performance from his players to pull off a winat Oregon, where he served as offensive coordinator under coach MikeBellotti in 1996 and 1997. He's very familiar with playing in rowdy AutzenStadium, where Arizona State (4-2, 2-0) fell 42-24 last season for itsfourth straight loss in the series.
'I've been at 90 stadiums in my travels,' Koetter said, 'and the two loudestplaces I've ever been are Autzen Stadium and at Syracuse in the (Carrier)Dome.'
The Ducks (6-0, 2-0) have won 29 of 30 at home and 11 straight overall,including six consecutive conference games following last week's 31-30victory at UCLA.
'Everybody thought we had not been tested all year, until now. This wasgreat for our program,' said Oregon tailback Onterrio Smith, who rushed forat least 100 yards for a school-record sixth straight game.
While Oregon likely needs a win to remain in the national championshippicture, Arizona State could catapult itself into the national rankings witha victory.
The Sun Devils are 20th nationally with 35.1 points per game, but theiroffense struggled in last week's 13-9 victory over Oregon State.
'We're not playing perfect by any means,' Koetter said, 'but our guys arecompeting and believing that guys around them are going to make plays.They're believing in each other and that's the start of a good thing.'
Sophomore quarterback Andrew Walter completed just 14 of 34 passes for 186yards with two interceptions in the win over Oregon State. He had thrown for888 yards in his previous two games.
His counterpart, Oregon's Jason Fife, ranks third nationally in passingefficiency. He went 14-of-18 for 202 yards with two touchdowns last week.
The junior signal-caller, who has attempted 108 consecutive passes withoutan interception, has completed nearly 60 percent of his throws this seasonwith 12 touchdowns and only one interception.
Fife will have to beware of ASU defensive end Terrell Suggs, who leads thecountry with 13 sacks.