No. 5 Oregon’s D quietly doing the job

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It’s the whole package that makes the Ducks particularly dangerous, in Erickson’s estimation.

“To me they may be the best football team in the country,” he said. “When you look at them on both sides of the football and their kicking game. They are so balanced. You cannot decide what their strengths are.”

The Sun Devils are 2-1 to start the season, with wins against the FCS Big Sky Conference’s Portland State and Northern Arizona before a close 20-19 loss to No. 11 Wisconsin. Arizona State kept the Badgers’ defense off balance for much of the day with their up-tempo spread offense, but couldn’t turn drives into points. Then Jay Valai swatted the Sun Devils’ attempt at a tying extra point.

The stakes _ and the competition _ are raised starting this week in Pac-10 play. Oregon is the defending Pac-10 champion and expected to repeat.

The Ducks are keenly aware that other conference teams will consider them the season’s ultimate upset.

“I’d be lying if I said no,” said defensive lineman Brandon Bair when asked if Oregon has a target on its back. “But I think it’s less that we’re defending champs and more of how we’ve played the last the games.”

(This version CORRECTS Replaces fourth paragraph to correct to New Mexico instead of Oregon State and correct score of Portland State game to 69-0.)

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