AP Sports Writer
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Coach Dan Lanning watched with pride as his veteran quarterback threw touchdowns all over the field, admired his playmakers as they made tough catches and marveled as his defense adjusted to anything and everything Arizona State tried to run.
For two glorious quarters on Saturday, the Oregon Ducks achieved football nirvana.
Bo Nix threw for 404 yards and a career-high six touchdowns, Patrick Herbert and Troy Franklin both caught two touchdown passes and No. 6 Oregon rolled to a 49-13 win.
“We talk about playing to our standard,” Lanning said. “I think the first half is the definition of that standard.”
The Ducks buried the Sun Devils with an avalanche of offense on the way to a 42-0 lead, scoring touchdowns on their first six drives and gaining 444 total yards. Nix — a Heisman Trophy candidate — had touchdown passes of 23, 49, 16, 45, 71 and 16 yards.
And then the second half started.
“Feels awesome — it’s a complete team win,” Nix said. “We played really good on offense, they protected great, ran the ball great and our receivers do what they do every week.”
The pace slowed considerably after the halftime break, but the Ducks still cruised to victory. Franklin caught eight passes for 128 yards and became the school’s single-season leader for yards receiving with 1,221. Nix completed 24 of 29 passes.
Oregon (10-1, 6-2 Pac-12) came into the game with the nation’s No. 1 offense, averaging more than 46 points per game.
The Ducks opened with a nine-play, 75-yard drive that ended when Nix hit Herbert for a 23-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead. Later in the first quarter, Herbert caught a short pass and rumbled 49 yards down the sideline for another score, escorted by a pair of blockers that kept the tight end untouched.
A few minutes later, Nix threw a perfectly placed 16-yard touchdown to Franklin, splitting two Arizona State defenders for a 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. The rout was well underway.
Oregon finished with 603 total yards and averaged nearly nine yards per play. Bucky Irving led the team with 63 yards rushing to go over 1,000 for the season.
It would have been understandable if Oregon had overlooked Arizona State, particularly considering the game’s placement on the schedule. The Sun Devils have struggled for a big chunk of the season, the Ducks were coming off an emotional win over USC and now they must prepare for a game against their rival Oregon State.
But it was clear after a couple of minutes that Oregon wasn’t going through the motions.
“We don’t play down to a level,” Franklin said. “We’re a consistent team when it comes to our play.”
Arizona State (3-8, 2-6) looked like it might be ready to give Oregon a good game after an unexpected 17-7 win over UCLA last week, surprising the Bruins with a variety of offensive formations.
The Sun Devils and first-year coach Kenny Dillingham continued that unorthodox approach on Saturday — and even had some success on the first drive — but a missed 43-yard field goal was deflating and Oregon’s offense quickly put the game out of reach.
“They’re just a really good football team, to be honest,” Dillingham said. “That’s a team that could win the national championship. If they run the table, they deserve that opportunity.”
Arizona State got on the scoreboard with Dario Longhetto’s 38-yard field goal in the third quarter. The Sun Devils added a late touchdown on Melquan Stovall’s 15-yard run.
Arizona State’s Trenton Bourguet completed 20 of 37 passes for 142 yards.
Oregon: The Ducks put on quite an offensive show to win their fifth straight game. Nix has now thrown 35 touchdowns and just two interceptions this year, adding to a sparkling resume in his fifth college season.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils have been much more competitive over the past few weeks with solid wins over Washington State and UCLA, but they’re not quite prepared to handle a team that’s playing at Oregon’s elite level. Give Dillingham a few recruiting classes and that might change.
Oregon might not move up in the polls, but it certainly doesn’t seem like it’ll fall. The Ducks are still in the hunt for a Pac-12 Championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Oregon: Hosts Oregon State on Friday.
Arizona State: Hosts Arizona on Saturday.