Though the game will be heavily hyped with ESPN's College Gameday attending, Stanford will not ruin Oregon's unblemished record.
Don't get it twisted—Oregon vs. Stanford is the premiere game next week. The Gameday crew was right to pick Eugene as its destination. This is a matchup of ranked Pac-12 teams squaring off against one another. What's not to like?
But if you think Stanford will pull off the upset, you've got another thing coming. First and foremost, this is a Stanford team that's lost two games. Both were close games, with the Notre Dame loss being questionable to say the least.
However, Stanford's record is not the reason they will lose. Just because a team has a better record than another team doesn't necessarily mean they are better. Look deeper though. It's how Stanford has lost and why they've lost that will lead to its downfall against Oregon.
First and foremost—playing against Oregon, your team must have a strong defense. A seven-year-old who seldom watches SportsCenter could tell you that.
"Okay, so why doesn't Stanford have a chance? Have you seen our defense?" Stanford fans chirp.
Hang in there. Stanford possesses a strong defense, and that's without question. This defense is allowing just 17.2 points per game, which is 12th in the nation. There's a reason this Stanford team is 8-2 and it's because of the strong defensive play.
Stanford is the Pac-12's premiere defense with a strong front seven that allows just 58.6 yards rushing per game. Stanford leads the nation in that category, and when it comes to total defense, Stanford leads the Pac 12 with just 320 yards allowed per game.
Therefore this team will stay in the game. They'll hang with Oregon, but the reason Stanford won't pull off the upset comes from the offensive side of the football.
While Stanford's defense may be fantastic, its offense is not quite. This is an offense that averages just 29.1 points per game. Going against an offense that produces 54.8 points per game, Stanford's offense will surely be called upon to answer scores.
Though Stanford is great at shutting down opponents with its defense, Oregon will score and put points on the board. That's a given. Stanford may slow this offense, but the Ducks won't be shut down completely.
So for Stanford to shake up the BCS even more, it'll need a superb performance out of Kevin Hogan. Quite a large situation for a redshirt freshman quarterback, don't you think? Not saying Hogan isn't capable because he proved against Oregon State that he can be effective and lead his team toward victory.
But this is a big time game, and the levity of the situation might be too much for the quarterback. Then again, that's something you really can't judge. No one knows how he will react, but one thing is for sure—Oregon's defense is underrated.
Oregon's known for its offensive supremacy, but the Ducks really aren't that bad on defense. The Ducks are giving up 377 yards per game, but more impressively, Oregon forces turnovers. The Ducks have 18 interceptions and they've recovered 11 fumbles all season. It's allowed Oregon to have a Pac 12-best +1.1 turnover margin.
So when you take into account Oregon's strong offense, home field advantage and underrated defense, it's easy to see who comes out on top in this showdown.
Simply put—Oregon is too good for Stanford, and though Stanford should be able to get some stops early, Oregon's fast-paced style will wear down the defense and allow them to pull away. Hogan will have to lead his team from behind and produce points.
He'll be unable to do so, as the Oregon Ducks improve to 11-0.