Not All Wins Are Beautiful

Tempe -- In a game that seemed to be dominated by turnovers and penalties, Oregon persevered and held on to beat a vastly improved ASU team 42-31. Statistically the Sun Devils dominated nearly every aspect of the game except the turnover margin and that proved to be the difference.

(PHOTO) Oregon safety John Boyett returns an interception for a touchdown against Arizona State in the first quarter of an NCAA football game Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)

The Ducks were pushed all over the field, giving up 387 yards passing, 210 yards rushing and allowing the Devils to run 99 plays on offense, thirty more than Oregon. However, when things were looking bleak, Oregon repeatedly had a knack for finding a way to dig in and steal the momentum from ASU. In fact, steal may be the perfect adjective since the Ducks picked off four Steven Threet passes and also pounced on three ASU fumbles for a total of seven turnovers.

John Boyett led the Ducks with 11 tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown in the first quarter but Oregon's MVP may have been the guy with the big leg. Eleven times Jackson Rice was called on to boot the ball out of harm's way, often with very little real estate available behind him and he delivered. Jackson averaged over 46 yards a punt and should be considered a strong candidate for Pac-10 special team's player of the week.

There is no doubt that this was an ugly game, but good teams find a way to win. ASU is an excellent squad and any Pac-10 victory on the road is very significant. After the game LaMichael James was quick to point out that the Sun Devil's defense was the best that he has faced in his Oregon career. In fact, LaMike was surprised to hear that he had rushed for 114 yards since he didn't think he had cracked 100 because it was tough going all night long.

Oregon will happily take the win but they have a lot of work to do. Highly touted Stanford rolls into Eugene next week and the Ducks can't count on another seven turnovers to bail them out. Once again Oregon needs to dig in, but they also need to improve or they will be the disappointed home team next Saturday.

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