Sun Devils welcome the challenge in Eugene

Not many people are giving 18th-ranked Arizona State (5-1, 3-0) much of a chance Saturday against 9th-ranked Oregon (4-1, 2-0) and that includes the Vegas oddsmakers who have listed the Ducks as 14-point favorites heading into the showdown in Eugene.

For Dennis Erickson’s team it’s a chance to prove they belong on the national stage after struggling in their only true road test, a 17-14 loss at Illinois on September 17th.

ASU quarterback Brock Osweiler and his teammates say they’re ready to prove the skeptics wrong.

“Guys are excited for the challenge,” Osweiler explained. “We understand Oregon is a great football team, but we’re up for that challenge on the road. There’s a little confidence going around the locker room.”

If the Devils are going to have a chance, they’ll need a big game from their junior signal-caller who has performed well to this point, completing over 66% of his throws with 13 touchdowns. He’s been intercepted only six times, but hasn’t faced a blitz-happy defense like he’ll see at Autzen Stadium.

“I want to see how he’s going to handle that fury,” ESPN college football analyst Brock Huard told Brad Cesmat on “Big Guy on Sports” Wednesday afternoon. “It’s going to come at him with all sort of exotic looks.”

ASU, the front-runner in the Pac-12 south, have a chance to further distance themselves in the division and send a clear message to the rest of the league with a win Saturday night.

“This is a great opportunity for us and this football program,” head coach Dennis Erickson said. “It’s been a good week of practice. We’ve had a lot of fun. We’re going to go up there and play as hard as we can.”

The Ducks will likely be without star junior running back LaMichael James who is still recovering from a dislocated elbow suffered in a win over Cal on October 7.

Kickoff is set for 7:15 p.m. on Saturday.

Log on to our Pros2Preps Facebook page for comments from Brad Cesmat and Natalie Rivers during the game.

We provide exclusive Arizona sports stories from the pros, college, and high school levels. Bookmark our site or follow us on Twitter or Facebook for all your local sports news!