Don't expect the Stanford Cardinal to upset the Oregon Ducks this week.
The Cardinal have just one victory over Oregon (2009) in their previous 10 tries, and the Ducks at one point ran off seven consecutive—2002 through 2008.
And over the past decade between Stanford and Oregon, the Ducks have scored 35-plus points in nine of the games. For the converse, Stanford scored over 35 points just once, which unsurprisingly came in its lone victory: It racked up 51 when Andrew Luck was under center with Toby Gerhart in the backfield.
After Gerhart, though, Stanford's offense could not set the pace to match Oregon. Combined between 2010 and 2011, the Ducks have scored 105 points versus Stanford. As for the 2012 matchup, it will be more of the same.
Chip Kelly's Fast-Paced Offense
The dynamics of Oregon's offense are what create constant mismatches versus any opponent.
Entering this matchup, the Ducks average 54.8 points per game and have actually scored above that five times in 2012. And we know Chip Kelly's ground game is elite. Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas combine for an average of 7.3 yards per attempt.
Factor in Oregon getting 325 rushing yards per game, and this offense literally doesn't need to entirely utilize quarterback Marcus Mariota. Well, the freshman signal-caller has accounted for 516 rushing yards and also 2,164 passing yards.
Obviously, the numbers are inflated due to the pace of Kelly's play-calling and the overall offensive speed. That said, Mariota also sports a 71.7 completion percentage and only five picks to 28 touchdown passes.
The youngster possesses the arm strength to thwart a defense downfield and the mobility to buy time when needed. This skill set combined with Barner and Thomas simply makes for one insanely fast offense any way you slice it.
And until proven to be stopped, Oregon will not slow down.
Cardinal Can't Match Explosion
This has been evident in virtually every game over the past decade. The downside for Stanford is averaging 34.2 points per game over the past five contests against Oregon hasn't been enough.
Versus basically anyone else in the Pac-12 that would be good enough for a victory—which ironically was the case in 2010 and 2011 aside from the wins over USC.
Unfortunately, Stanford's defense could not stuff Oregon in the trenches because the Ducks are too quick at winning the point of attack.
Stanford's offense doesn't present the spread passing attack to slice at each level, for one. Secondly, although the play-action pass has been quite relevant, Stanford has yet to execute on Oregon's level either.
Slamming on the ground is Stanford's forte, and it definitely works to a T.
However, the Cardinal still average almost 160 fewer rushing yards per game than Oregon. With the Ducks also tossing for more passing yards and having fewer interceptions, Stanford will score, but not enough, as we've recently seen.
Ducks Defensive Capabilities
Without question did the USC Trojans expose Oregon's defense this season and in 2011.
Stanford, on the other hand, has not been able to keep up with the Ducks, and it's in large part to the defense. We have to remember that Oregon also blanked the Arizona Wildcats this year, and Rich Rodriguez's offense averages 37.9 points per game.
Not to mention Arizona also put up 48 on Stanford in early October.
Oregon's defensive speed is just a bit overwhelming for the Cardinal to overcome. In the last two meetings the Ducks forced eight turnovers of Stanford despite losing the time-of-possession battle.
So Oregon's defense isn't so much about allowing yards as it is providing additional possessions for the offense. Excluding the USC game of 2012, the Ducks have given up over 30 points just one time.
Chip Kelly's defense is much better than given credit for being, and Stanford will be held in check enough to let Oregon's offense take over. That has been the story in recent seasons, and 2012 won't be any different.
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