It will be the beginning of the Gus Malzahn head coaching era at ASU, the first year coach feels today's matchup will be a good test of where and how good his team could be this season.
"There is no doubt there will be a measuring stick for our program," Malzahn said earlier this week. "It's our goal to be one of the fastest offenses in the nation, they have the same principles. It will give us an idea where we are at as a program."
Arkansas State enters the matchup at least a 35 point underdog, several of ASU players talked about this week about approaching the game with the Ducks in a hostile environment as an opportunity for the Red Wolves.
"It is a great opportunity for us as a team," senior quarterback Ryan Aplin said. "I promise you, we are going in with the mindset of doing everything we can do to win the ballgame."
Malzahn agreed with Aplin's assessment.
"We are going to play Oregon aggressively," Malzahn said. "We are going to play like we will play all season. That's to play as fast as we can, we are going to play our game, like we will the entire season, that's just who we are."
OFFENSIVE KEYS OF THE GAME
*Arkansas State has to play mistake free football, they can't afford to make turnovers and give Oregon great field position and easy points.
*ASU needs to establish a running game. This won't be easy against perhaps one of Oregon's best defensive teams in recent history. Running game needs to take pressure off of Ryan Aplin, and to open the passing game.
*The Red Wolves must take advantage of height advantage of wide receivers against Oregon's secondary. ASU must make some big plays offensively.
*Arkansas State's offensive line must be sound fundamentally against a much bigger Oregon defensive line. They have to play with great technique.
*ASU must protect Ryan Aplin, keep pressure off of him, giving him time to throw. Can't afford to give up a lot of sacks.
DEFENSIVE KEYS OF THE GAME
*Must slow down Oregon's offense, can't allow them easy scores. Need to keep big explosive plays for Oregon to a minimum.
*ASU Defense has to cause some disruption for Oregon freshman quarterback Marcus Mariotta. They must get to him early and often.
*No one is probably going to stop DeAnthony Thomas this season, a top candidate for the Heisman, but can't allow him to have Heisman type numbers in his opener.
*Must limit Oregon's success on each of their offensive possessions, can't afford to allow them to score at will.
*Can't have any miss assignments that give up the integrity of the defense.
*Young players must step up and have the game of their lives.