Big game of the week
ESPN’s College GameDay program will be at Autzen Stadium for No. 9 Oregon’s game against No. 18 Arizona State on Saturday night.
But will LaMichael James?
That’s the million-dollar question, and one that could go a long way in determining whether the Ducks get a shot at the BCS national championship. The spectacular junior running back leads the nation in all-purpose yards and has rushed for more than 200 in each of his last three games, but left a 43-15 victory over Cal last week with a grotesquely dislocated elbow.
The Ducks have said they do not know when James will return, and are preparing to play without him — though some rivals think it won’t matter.
“Don’t get me wrong, he’s the best back in the country,” Stanford coach David Shaw said. “But without him there, they still have two backs that can flat-out fly. They have a good group of receivers, they have an outstanding quarterback. They’re not going to miss a beat.”
Meanwhile, the Sun Devils will face the toughest test of their season, a week after laying out Utah on the road.
Quarterback Brock Osweiler returns to the scene of his nightmarish first college start, this time a much more mature and polished player with a defense that leads the league with 10 interceptions.
But the Sun Devils have lost 15 straight games against teams ranked in the top 10, while the Ducks have won 19 in a row at home, 14 straight in league play and six straight against ASU — by an average score of 42.3 to 20.8.
Cornerback Marc Anthony is expected to miss Cal’s game against USC on Thursday night, meaning that true freshman Stefan McClure will make his first start.
Against … gulp … Robert Woods.
Woods is the star sophomore receiver who leads the nation with 13.6 catches per game and ranks second with 149.4 receiving yards. All he did in his last game was scorch Arizona for 255 yards.
“He’s probably one of the best receivers in the nation and for sure the best that we’ll face,” McClure told the San Jose Mercury-News. “You can’t play his reputation. You just have to be ready.”
Lucky and good
Hard to believe it, but Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck is having an even better season to this point than he did last year, when he was the Heisman Trophy runner-up:
Year Passing Pct. Yards TD Int.
2011 106 for 145 73.1 1,383 14 2
2010 93 for 148 62.8 1,253 13 4
Five candidates for Arizona
The Arizona Daily Star in Tucson speculated on five possible replacements for fired Arizona coach Mike Stoops, who “will intrigue the UA, on some level:”
Chris Peterson • The rising star is 66-5 at Boise State and acquainted with athletic director Greg Byrne.
Mike Belotti • The retired Oregon coach also knows Byrne, and has an impressive résumé from his time with the Ducks.
Chuck Cecil • One of Arizona’s greatest stars, he played and coached in the NFL and could appeal to the Wildcat family.
Sonny Dykes • The head coach at Louisiana Tech is a former UA offensive coordinator and would be a complete change from Stoops.
Mike Leach • The former Texas Tech coach is known for his amazing aerial offenses, but also for an ugly split with Tech.