Stanford at Oregon
This Saturday the No. 2 Oregon Ducks will host the No. 13 Stanford Cardinal in a game that will have a huge impact on the Pac-12 standings and potentially the BCS National Championship. The Ducks defeated the Cardinal 53-30 at Stanford a season ago. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 EST at Autzen Stadium and will be televised nationally on ABC. Oddsmakers currently have Oregon listed as a 20.5-point home favorite with the total posted at 65 points.
Why Stanford Will Cover:
The Cardinal improved to 8-2 overall and 6-1 in conference play with a 27-23 win over then No. 11 Oregon State this past weekend. Stanford is just a couple of plays away from being undefeated, as they lost 13-17 at Washington and 13-20 in overtime at Notre Dame.
While Oregon has made easy work of just about every opponent they have faced this season, I wouldn’t be so quick to count out the Cardinal in this one. The Ducks most impressive win to date is a 62-51 win at USC, but Stanford also can lay claim to a victory over the Trojans. They beat USC 21-14 at home back on Sept. 15.
The contrast in how these two teams beat USC is very interesting. Stanford used a dominant defensive effort to beat the Trojans, as their stop unit allowed just 280 yards of total offense. The Ducks had to outscore the Trojans to secure a win.
The Cardinal come into this game with one of the top ranked defenses in the country. They are 12th in scoring defense (17.2 ppg) and 17th in total defense (320.7 ypg). Most importantly, they lead the nation in run defense, giving up just 58.8 ypg on the ground, behind one of the most dominant front sevens you will find. Oregon’s offense comes into this game with the 3rd ranked rushing offense at 325.1 ypg.
If Stanford can impose their will and keep the Ducks from running all over them, they will be able to stay in this game and potentially pull off the upset. Slowing down the Oregon offense won’t be easy, but I expect the Cardinal to do everything they can to limit their chances. Look for Stanford to try and establish the running game and put together a lot of long drives on offense to keep the Ducks high-powered attack on the sidelines.
This is also a very good team to back on the road in big time games. The Cardinal are 3-1 ATS away from home this season and 16-5-1 ATS over their last 22 overall. They are also 6-1-1 ATS over their last 8 road games vs a team with a winning road record, while Oregon is just 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
Why Oregon Will Cover:
The Ducks have been one of the most impressive teams to watch all season. Oregon cruised to a 59-17 win at California to improve to 10-0 on the season. With previously unbeaten Alabama losing at home to Texas A&M, the Ducks now find themselves in the drivers seat to play in the BCS National Championship Game.
I was really impressed with how well Oregon played last week, as that was the definition of a let down game. The Ducks were coming off that huge win at USC and likely knew the Pac-12 North would be decided this week against Stanford. There are those that say this is hands down the best team head coach Chip Kelly has had in his time at Eugene and that win certainly made me a believer.
As good as the Cardinal are on defense, the Ducks may simply be that much better offensively that Stanford won’t be able to stop them from putting up big numbers. Last year’s game between these two teams definitely gives the edge to Oregon in that respect. Stanford finished the 2011 season allowing just 84 ypg on the ground, one of the top marks in the country. However, they had no answer for the Ducks rushing attack in that blowout loss at home. Oregon piled on 232 yards on the ground.
It’s not the Oregon offense that has many believing they are the front-runners to win the national championship, it’s the outstanding play they have got from one of the most underrated defenses in the country. Oregon is allowing 22.3 ppg on 377.7 yards of total offense, but those numbers are extremely inflated because in so many games this year they have pulled the starters in the first half and allowed their opponents to pick up yards in garbage time.
The only game in which the Ducks’ defense was exposed was that game against USC, but the Trojans did their damage behind a future NFL quarterback in Matt Barkley and two NFL-ready wide outs in Marqise Lee and Robert Woods. Stanford simply doesn’t have the offensive talent like USC. The Cardinal have a very suspect offense to say the least. They are averaging just 29.1 ppg on a mere 378.1 yards of total offense. They have the 85th ranked passing offense in the country at just 211.9 ypg. Their inability to throw the ball consistently is a major concern for Cardinal fans, as they would pretty much be dead in the water if Oregon is able to get out to an early 14-21 point lead.