Stanford Cardinal (5-3 SU, 4-4 ATS) vs. Oregon Ducks (7-1 SU, 4-4 ATS)
College Football Week 10
Date and Time: Saturday, November 1, 2014 at 7:30PM EST
Where: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon
by Scott, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: STAN +9.5/ORE -9.5
Over/Under Total: Off
In a big Pac-12 match-up, the Stanford Cardinal make the trip up north to Eugene to face the 5th-ranked Oregon Ducks. Oregon is coming off a 59-41 road win over Cal and has seen their offense clicking into gear in recent weeks with 146 combined points in their last 3 games–all of which were conference wins. Stanford, meanwhile, scored a much-needed victory on Saturday, a 38-14 win over Oregon State.
This game lacks some of the mystique of recent years. Over the last several seasons, when these two teams play, Pac-12 supremacy is on the line, often along with national championship implications. With 3 losses, Stanford has fallen off a bit in 2014. But if Oregon is relying on that, they could be in for a surprise. Two of Stanfords losses were by a field goal and they are second nationally with a defense that allows 12.5 points per game. And yes, theyve had Oregons number the past few years.
The Ducks fell into a bit of a funk as several issues, including a dire situation on the offensive line, threatened to derail their season. They had the close call against Washington State, followed by the loss to Arizona. Oregon has shown some character by bouncing back strongly. First was the conclusive win over UCLA, followed by a pair of solid wins over Washington and Cal.
Oregon has a dynamic offense that seems to be getting better each week, no doubt boosted by an offensive line that quickly bounced back into respectable form. QB Marcus Mariota has crept back into Heisman discussions, with 24 TD throws and only 1 pick. He also has 5 rushing touchdowns. RB Royce Freeman has become a machine, with 13 touchdowns on the ground. Receivers Byron Marshall, Devon Allen, Dwayne Stanford, and Pharaoh Brown have combined for 19 touchdown receptions.
Defensively, were not seeing quite the same Oregon weve seen in the past few seasons. On one hand, the conference has become deeper, featuring a slew of high-flying offenses that are impossible to totally contain. But still, the Oregon pass-coverage has been awfully suspect at times this season against some of the better offenses they have faced. And they havent been much better when facing teams with good run-games. They gave up 31 to both Washington State and Arizona, while giving up 41 to the Golden Bears on Saturday. Luckily for them, Stanfords offense has been largely inconsistent this season.
Stanfords strength is their defense. They are second in total defense–a balanced unit that is 4th against the pass and 5th against the run. They have held USC to 13 points, kept Connor Halliday and Washington State in check with 17 points, and held the Beavers to just 14 points on Saturday. Things figure to get more difficult this week. While their offense suffers at times, the Stanford D is still tough. Against some super-loaded Ducks offenses in the last few years, this Cardinal team has performed well–a 26-20 win in 2013 and a 17-14 win in 2012. So this wouldnt be the first time weve seen a peaking Oregon offense hit a wall when they face Stanford.
Stanfords defensive state were bolstered by shutouts over UC Davis and Army, but they have still shown they are the real deal against come pretty good conference offenses this season. And while scoring 38 points last week was promising, it was against Oregon State. Still, there were some promising signs to build on coming into this game. QB Kevin Hogan did throw a pair of picks, but was otherwise solid in moving this offense, with 277 yards in the air. Barry Sanders is breaking off some nice runs with increasing regularity. Top WR Ty Montgomery is starting to get hot again and Christian McCaffrey is providing some well-needed production. But even with relatives of former NFL greats sprinkled in this offense, its a pretty lackluster group, especially when compared to teams like Oregon.
Kevin Hogan knows he can beat Oregon and has done it twice before. Oregon knows Stanford gives them trouble and a lot of key players on both sides of the ball have first-hand experience on how difficult Stanford is and how well they usually match up against Oregon. There is a psychological element that the Ducks need to overcome. You look at a mid-pack QB like Hogan and the Stanford offense as a whole this season and the first instinct is to go with Oregon. That thought pattern hasnt worked in the past few years.
I think Oregon is peaking and while Stanfords defense is robust, their offense should struggle and perhaps mightily at times. Where Oregon ends up this season is anyones guess, but after having big plans repeatedly spoiled by Stanford, this could be lining up as a good spot for Oregon to exorcise those demons and gain a measure of revenge. I see Oregon getting the double-digit win against a Stanford team that is a bit diminished from recent campaigns.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Oregon Ducks minus 9.5 points.