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Oregon Wins, Closes In on Rose Bowl : Pacific 10: After defeating Arizona State, 34-10, Ducks are only two victories away.

November 06, 1994|From Associated Press

EUGENE, Ore. — The chant "Rose Bowl! Rose Bowl!" began in the third quarter. It was noticeably tentative, as if Oregon fans couldn't quite believe what they were saying.

But after Danny O'Neil threw for three third-quarter touchdowns Saturday in No. 21 Oregon's 34-10 romp over Arizona State, and Washington State lost to USC, the Ducks are in control of the race to Pasadena.

Oregon, 7-3 overall and 5-1 in the Pacific 10, can advance to the Rose Bowl for the first time in 37 years if it wins its last two games, at Stanford and at Oregon State.

"Two more weeks, lay everything you've got on the line, and we're probably going to go to the Rose Bowl," O'Neil said.

But he doesn't want his teammates to think too much about that ultimate goal. "Hopefully this team is going to have the same mindset we did when we were 1-2," he said. "Let's forget about the media. Let's forget about the fans. Let's just take care of business. We know what we've got to do. Hopefully, if we do that, we'll have a lot of time to celebrate in that month we have off after the Oregon State game."

The Ducks have defeated USC and Arizona, the only other Pac-10 teams with one conference loss, and continued to gain momentum with a convincing victory over an Arizona State team they were favored to beat by only a touchdown.

"The good news is that after getting a little notoriety last week, we didn't go in the tank," Oregon Coach Rich Brooks said.

Oregon's "Gang Green" defense had gotten most of the attention lately, but the offense rolled for 515 yards against the Sun Devils.

"We have been an offense that has been a little conservative prior to today," Brooks said. "But we felt we could open it up a little more today and it bore fruit."

The Ducks' Ricky Whittle rushed for 140 yards in 15 carries, including a 67-yard touchdown run in the first quarter that ended with a pirouette dive into the end zone as he held the ball over his head, a showboat move that drew a penalty and the ire of Brooks.

"He rode me pretty hard because that's not the character of our team," Whittle said. "It was a one-time kind of thing that will never happen again."

Arizona State (3-6, 2-4) trailed only 13-3 at halftime. But the Sun Devils lost starting cornerbacks Marcus Soward and Craig Newsome to injuries in the first half and O'Neil and his recently returned favorite receiver, Cristin McLemore, turned the game into a runaway.

O'Neil, who is No. 2 on Oregon's career passing list but had not had a big game statistically all season, was five of eight for 175 yards in the third quarter as the Ducks took a 34-3 lead.

His last three completions went for touchdowns. The first was a 14-yarder to McLemore, the second a 67-yard bomb to Pat Johnson, who caught the ball over his shoulder and raced for the score. And the third was a 66-yarder to McLemore, who returned last week after missing two games with a sprained right ankle.

O'Neil completed 13 of 26 passes for a season-high 234 yards and didn't play in the last quarter. He was not intercepted. McLemore caught seven passes for 121 yards.

Arizona State's Jake Plummer completed 20 of 34 passes for 216 yards, including one for 12 yards to Clyde McCoy in the fourth quarter for the Sun Devils' only touchdown. Arizona State managed just 87 yards on the ground, 42 of them on one play.

The loss ensured Sun Devil Coach Bruce Snyder his first losing season in three years at the school.

"That's bitter for me and bitter for this football team," Snyder said. "We're really hurt by it."

Oregon hasn't been 5-1 in the conference since 1957, which is also the last time the Ducks went to the Rose Bowl. The Ducks have won six of their last seven and have consecutive victories over California, Washington, Arizona and Arizona State, all at home, where Oregon finished with a 6-1 record.

"They're probably better than I thought they would be," Arizona State wide receiver Keith Poole said.

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