If Oregon is ever going to win another game this season, Friday's meeting with Arizona State is the one.
The Ducks (2-5, 0-4 Pac-12) still seek their first conference victory of the season while ASU (5-3, 2-3) is looking to avoid slipping closer toward .500 after getting out to a 5-1 start.
Many problems have contributed to the Ducks' five-game losing streak, but nothing has been more glaring than the poor play of the defense, which ranks 128th (last) in the nation in yards allowed per game (538.6) and 126th in scoring defense (43.3 points per game).
Had Oregon's defense simply been bad (like last season) through the first seven games instead of putrid, the Ducks could be 4-3 right now, if not 5-2.
The good news this week is that Oregon is moving away from playing offensive powers. Oregon's last three losses have come against the top three scoring teams in the conference, Washington, California and Washington State. They scored a combined 173 points against Oregon for a whopping 57.7 points per game.
Wait! That can't be right...
(Reaches for calculator, punches in the numbers, press '=' and...Yikes!).
Yep, 57.7. Embarrassing.
Anyway, ASU will offer somewhat of a reprieve. The Sun Devils are averaging 35.8 points per game, but they averaged 48 points per game in three non-conference contests. In conference play, ASU has averaged 28.4 points per game.
Aside from the 70-21 debacle against Washington, which has one of the top defenses in the nation, Oregon averaged 38 points per game in its four other losses.
That should be enough points for any team to have a winning record. Oregon's defense simply hasn't done its part. On Saturday, the Ducks' defense has a chance to deliver in a victory.
ASU is averaging just 157.9 yards rushing per game on 3.9 yards per carry. That average per game included 301 against Texas Tech, 205 against Texas San Antonio and 276 against NAU. Take those 782 rushing yards off of the season's ledger and ASU is left averaging just 96.2 yards rushing per game in conference.
ASU's passing offense isn't much better. The Sun Devils have eight touchdown passes on the season with seven interceptions. Plus, quarterback Manny Wilkins, who is doubtful with a leg injury, hasn't been very effective this season.
All of this means that the Ducks should be able to keep ASU's offense somewhat in check, which could allow UO's offense to win the game.
This is Oregon's best chance for a conference win next to maybe the Civil War. If the Ducks blow this one, they could be headed toward a 3-9 season. If they win, Oregon would enter the following week's game at USC with at least some hope of becoming bowl eligible.
A quick look at ASU:
When: 2 p.m., Autzen Stadium, Eugene.
T.V.: Pac-12 Network.
Betting line: Oregon by 7 1/2.
Records: Oregon (2-5, 0-3 Pac-12), ASU (5-3, 2-3).
Coaches: Oregon's Mark Helfrich (35-13); ASU's Todd Graham (39-22 at ASU, 88-51 overall).
Last week: Oregon lost 52-49 in double overtime at California (4-3, 2-2). ASU lost 37-32 at home against Washington State (5-2, 4-0).
Sun Devils' impact players: Wilkins has thrown for 1,421 yards and six touchdowns with five interceptions, but appears unlikely to play. Freshman Brady White is the backup. He threw for 179 yards and a touchdown with one interception during a 23-20 win at UCLA.
Running back Demario Richard has gained 532 rushing yards with three touchdowns, while Kalen Ballege has 406 with 10 touchdowns. He rushed for seven touchdowns against Texas Tech.
ASU junior linebacker Koron Crump leads the Pac-12 with eight sacks. Junior linebacker D.J. Calhoun ranks tied for seventh with 4 1/2.
Fear factor (five-point scale): 3.5. ASU certainly could do everything better on offense against Oregon than it has against the rest of the Pac-12, and the Sun Devils' pressure defense could make life difficult for UO freshman quarterback Justin Herbert.
But Herbert, who threw for six touchdowns passes at Cal, shouldn't be impacted by ASU's antics, and the Ducks' running game should pop some big plays, at least enough to win.
Prediction: Oregon 44, Arizona State 33. Oregon is due. The Ducks have lost three games by three points and in each failed to close out in the final minute. This time they get it done.