ASU Football: Best, average and worst case scenarios against Oregon

TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 03: Running back Eno Benjamin #3 of the Arizona State Sun Devils rushes the football against the Utah Utes during the first half of the college football game at Sun Devil Stadium on November 3, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 03: Running back Eno Benjamin #3 of the Arizona State Sun Devils rushes the football against the Utah Utes during the first half of the college football game at Sun Devil Stadium on November 3, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

ASU football has a chance to wrap up the Pac-12 South with a win over Oregon this weekend. Here are three potential scenarios for tomorrow’s game.

With two wins, Arizona State can clinch a spot in the Pac-12 Championship game for the first time since 2013.

But for now, they’re only focused on one.

As the Sun Devils prepare for Oregon, history won’t be on their side. ASU has lost their last four outings in Eugene dating back to 2004. The Sun Devils also haven’t won two straight road games since 2014, and they haven’t won four straight games since their forgettable 2016 season.

They also have to face Justin Herbert, a pro-style quarterback that would be a top-10 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. With star running back CJ Verdell at his disposal, this might be the toughest defensive challenge of ASU’s season.

If the Sun Devils prevail Saturday night, the Pac-12 South could very well be wrapped up. Losses from Utah and Arizona would give ASU the title even before the Territorial Cup next weekend.

The team, however, can only focus on what’s in front of them. And that’s finding a win against a Duck team that may be the hardest to prepare for in the Pac-12.

Let’s take a look at three scenarios that could play out in tomorrow’s pivotal game.

Best Case Scenario: A Great Win… With Some Added Help

Riding the hot arm of Manny Wilkins, the physical running of Eno Benjamin and the program’s best defense in years, the Sun Devils stomp into Eugene and defeat the Ducks to move one step closer toward their goal of a Pac-12 South title.

From start to finish, the Sun Devils play their best game of the year. Herbert’s pocket efficiency gives him an edge in predicting man coverage, but Danny Gonzales switches his midfield looks and gets pressure on the quarterback to start the game.

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With Oregon going three-and-out in their first two drives, the Sun Devils have the luxury of optimal field position. They use it to power through a struggling defense, using Benjamin to move upfield and be a goal-line bully to open up a two-score advantage before the second quarter.

The Ducks respond, but Wilkins has N’Keal Harry, who records his third straight game over 100 yards receiving to keep the Sun Devils alive on third down. With ASU moving the ball, the Ducks lose the time of possession battle, giving Herbert fewer chances to bring his team back to life.

While there are some scares, the Sun Devils survive with a one-score victory to, at least to their knowledge, keep their Pac-12 title hopes alive.

But there’s a catch – as the Sun Devils walk off the field, they find out Utah’s earlier defeat to Colorado was complemented by Arizona losing to Washington State. Thus, ASU celebrates again after clinching the division title.

It’s the perfect outcome – but it’s not fully in their control.

Average Case Scenario: Moving on to Next Week

The Sun Devils take care of business, defeating Oregon in the wake of two victories from Arizona and Utah.

In this game, ASU hits a rocky start, as the Ducks strike first to put ASU down early. The offense, however, responds right away, as Benjamin’s prowess gets the Sun Devils at the goal line and punches in a quick score to nod things up at seven.

This gives Gonzales’ unit a chance to respond, an opportunity they take by forcing a three-and-out, giving the offense another chance. The action stalls from that point, as Oregon gets a field goal to take a 3-point lead into halftime.

The second half is when things change. With Merlin Robertson back on the field, he breaks through Oregon’s beat-up offensive line and gives Herbert loads of trouble. After standing back in the pocket for the first half, the Ducks’ quarterback is flushed out in the second, lowering his completion percentage and Oregon’s time of possession.

From that point on, the Sun Devils take over. Rob Likens uses Benjamin to slow down tempo, and once ASU takes the lead, they secure it. While they lead by no more than seven points and the game becomes tied, a late-game drive pushes the Sun Devils into Duck territory and gives Brandon Ruiz a game-winning field goal opportunity to shake his struggles of recent weeks.

With the win, the Sun Devils are still in contention for a divisional title. But they’ll have to wait one week longer to finish it. Arizona won’t have a chance to win it, but they’d love to eliminate ASU’s chances in the Territorial Cup

Worst Case Scenario: It’s All Gone

Utah wins. Arizona wins.

ASU loses.

It’s the scenario nobody wants to see Saturday evening. Three weeks ago, the Sun Devils’ Pac-12 title hopes looked to be shot. Now, they are, and there isn’t much left to play for.

With Robertson out in the first half, Herbert takes advantage by thriving in the man coverage looks ASU brings. He gets desired one-on-one matchups with Dillon Mitchell, using his deep throws to put the Ducks up early.

From there on, the domination continues. Verdell carries for three rushes over 40-yards, keeping the Sun Devil defense on edge and frustrated.

As ASU has done in the past, they don’t give up. Wilkins is forced to go pass-only, allowing opportunities for Harry to break for big receptions and cut the deficit to three points entering the fourth quarter.

The Ducks get the ball back with four minutes remaining, and to the Devils’ misfortune, that’s the end of the game. Verdell and Herbert squeeze the first downs necessary, and the Ducks wind out the clock with a close victory over a hot opponent.

Now, all ASU can do is win the Territorial Cup. With their divisional title hopes gone, Herm Edwards will have to keep his team motivated to beat their rival.

Next. ASU Football: Edwards, team not concerned with Oregon’s struggles. dark

That challenge would be the most difficult of the season.