Stanford might have a nicer campus, smarter students, and even a better synchronized swimming team, but when it comes to football, there is no doubt that Oregon comes out on top.
The Ducks are coming off a big win, while the Cardinal have been home resting up during their open date.
This has pushed many pundits to put the Ducks on upset watch this Saturday, but like Rob Moseley from the Register-Guard wrote, “Is an obvious trap game actually a trap game if everybody in the country thinks it’s a trap game?”
Not with Chip Kelly at the helm.
Many coaches spew clichés, but Kelly has more than lived up to his of “one game at a time.” More importantly, the players have bought in 100 percent.
Left tackle Bo Thran echoed the intense focus that Kelly has preached to his team weekly, particularly this week after the tremendous high from beating USC last Saturday. Kelly isn’t worried about a letdown against the Cardinal.
“It’s a special team,” Kelly said. “Their mindset is really good right now. We all live in the moment.”
So what will it take for the Ducks to get their eighth straight win?
There’s no reason to believe that Stanford will be able to slow down the Ducks offense. Jeremiah Masoli and LaMichael James have emerged as legitimate stars, and Heisman candidates, since the turnaround against Cal in September.
Since the game, Masoli has been the epitome of efficiency, completing over 70 percent of his passes, while running for 7.5 YPC in his 29 attempts.
James, meanwhile, will have a chance to break the 1,000-yard mark for the season this weekend, which would be just the 16th time in Oregon history and the first time ever for a freshman. The diminutive speedster is 16th in the country in rushing yards and third in yards per carry.
James has exploded the last three games, each time surpassing the 150-yard plateau.
Defensively, I expect Nick Allioti to focus on stopping Toby Gerhart, a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award. Stack nine in the box and force Andrew Luck to beat you through the air.
Although Luck definitely has the potential to be a great quarterback, he hasn’t been able to win a game this season when he’s had to do it by himself. The five-star recruit and, of course, valedictorian from Texas is 0-3 in games where he has attempted 30 or more throws.
Bottom line, I expect the Ducks to come out with another win. Playing on the road is tough, and Stanford is a much improved team under Jim Harbaugh, but Oregon just has too many weapons.
I expect the Cardinal to hang around in the first half, but then the Ducks will run away with it in the third quarter.
Prediction: Oregon 42, Stanford 17
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