When Oregon traveled to Tempe last year to face Arizona State, Ducks fans didn’t know much about their quarterback Darron Thomas in his 4th game as a starter. He performed well in the desert, throwing for 7.9 yards per attempt (260 total) and led Oregon to a 42-31 victory. Arizona State turned the ball over 7 times in that game. Thomas ended up completing 61.5% of his pass attempts and throwing for 8.0 yards per attempt last year in leading Oregon to the national championship game.
This year, Arizona State travels to Eugene to face Oregon. Oregon ended last season with a 28.2 rating but has dropped to 20.5 this season. However, since our rankings use a one year window of games, Oregon’s rank includes the national championship game loss to Auburn. Since Auburn’s rating is dropping rapidly with the departure of key starters like quarterback Cam Newton, Oregon’s rating is negatively impacted by this loss. Oregon’s rating of 23.9 using only games this year might be more accurate. Arizona State’s rating of 12.6 hasn’t changed much from last year’s season ending 12.8. However, unlike last year’s Oregon game, Arizona State has enjoyed a +4 and +5 turnover margin against USC and Utah this year. This might be artificially inflating their rating. While turnovers are crucially important in the outcomes of games, turnovers are not useful in predicting the future. For example, Brian Burke at Advanced NFL Stats showed almost no correlation between defensive interception rate in the first and second half of the season. All things considered, the predicted 0.27 chance Arizona State has of beating Oregon is probably high.