While there's plenty of other drama surrounding Saturday's game between No. 14 Oregon and Arizona State, a guy who may or may not play will be getting almost all the attention.

Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount, who became infamous for punching a Boise State player on national television after the season opener, has returned from suspension after missing eight games.

"LeGarrette still has to be brought up to speed, so to speak" coach Chip Kelly said earlier this week. "It's not like he's going to come out and carry the ball 25 times."

The Ducks (7-2, 5-1) will start redshirt freshman LaMichael James at running back against the Sun Devils (4-4, 2-4). James has emerged as the team's top rusher _ and one of the best in the conference _ in Blount's absence, averaging 115.9 yards.

It's arguable that James, who has run more yards than any other freshman in Oregon history, may not had the season he's had if Blount had played.

Blount, who ran for 1,002 yards last season, is officially listed at the bottom of the Ducks' depth chart at the position.

A day after he punched Boise State defensive end Byron Hout in the opener, Blount was suspended for the season, although he was allowed to practice with the team and retain his scholarship.

Last month, Kelly announced that Blount could return if he met certain academic and behavior requirements. The coach reinstated him on Monday.

"It's really a good sight for sore eyes. LeGarrette brings a lot to the table," said Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, the team's second-best rusher with an average of 61.4 yards a game. Masoli has nine touchdowns rushing to go with his nine passing scores.

With or without Blount, the Ducks will be trying to rebound from last weekend's 51-42 loss to Stanford.

Oregon still sits atop the tight Pac-10 standings, but to assure the league championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl the Ducks will have to win their remaining games. After the Sun Devils, Oregon visits Arizona and returns home for the Civil War against Oregon State.

The No. 18 Wildcats and Oregon each have one conference loss. Southern California, Stanford and Oregon State each have two.

"We've seen our mistakes, we've watched the film. There's nothing we can do about that game" against Stanford safety T.J. Ward said. "We're looking forward to Arizona State and making sure they don't do the same things Stanford did to us."

The Sun Devils must win out to become eligible for a bowl game. After Oregon, they visit UCLA before hosting in-state rival Arizona.

Arizona State, coming off a 14-9 loss to USC, will start true freshman Brock Osweiler at quarterback because of senior Danny Sullivan's right biceps injury.

The 6-foot-8 Osweiler replaced Sullivan for the second half against the Trojans. So far this season he's 19 of 45 for 235 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in five games.

Osweiler is the first true freshman to state for the Sun Devils since Jake Plummer in 1993.

Perhaps Arizona State's best chances for keeping up with Oregon at Autzen Stadium with be on defense. The Sun Devils which has the best rush defense in the Pac-10. The Sun Devils are ranked sixth nationwide, allowing just 87.44 yards per game.

Last season, Oregon was able to run for 304 yards in a 54-20 victory in Tempe. Masoli and Blount each ran for two touchdowns in the game.

Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson was well aware of the challenge _ Blount or no Blount.

"It's frightening at times what they're able to do when things are going right and they have the timing. It's interesting to watch," he said. "They'll hand the ball off one time and the guy will go 40 yards, then they'll keep it and then they'll throw it. They've got everything going."