Ducks kick off title defense in the desert

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By Natalie Rivers By Natalie Rivers

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- Arizona State had a quiet flight home from Wisconsin, the players bummed after missing so many opportunities in the loss to the 11th-ranked Badgers.

They better get over it quick. Up next is fifth-ranked Oregon, a team Sun Devils coach Dennis Erickson says might be the best in the country.

Oregon has outscored its first three opponents 189-13 and has the best statistical offense and defense in the nation. The Ducks have won five straight over Arizona State, including a 44-21 rollover in Eugene last season.

This appears to be a different Sun Devils team, though.

Picked to finish ninth by the Pac-10's coaches, Arizona State has shown signs of escaping a two-year malaise with a big-play offense to go with its typically stout defense.