Picked to finish in the middle of the Pac-10, Oregon has thrust itself into the heart of national title race. 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 -- Oregon was in fifth-place in the latest BCS standings while Arizona State was fourth.
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."
Oregon's quarterback Dennis Dixon (10) out runs Arizona State's Travis Goethel (44) in the first quarter of their college football game Saturday, Nov. 3, 2007, in Eugene , Ore. Oregon defeated Arizona State 35-23.
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. 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.
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. 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.
Next: #2 (hopefully) Oregon Ducks at Arizona
Thanks - pic and news from AP; video from ESPN