No. 7 Oregon Ducks at No. 4 Stanford Cardinal
Kickoff time: Sat, Nov 12 — 5:00 p.m. PT
Palo Alto, CA.
With the kickoff for the game with huge BCS and Pac-12 North implications less than a few days away, both teams are heavily preparing for the game of the season.
The Ducks are led by an explosive offense with key backs LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas.
Stanford features an often-overlooked defense and one of the best running attacks in the Pac-12.
In order for the Ducks to emerge victorious, they will need to play their best game of the season.
In last year’s 52-31 win over the Cardinal, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck threw two costly interceptions that changed the outcome of the game. While cornerback Cliff Harris (the recipient of both picks) is out for the game, you can expect this secondary to be ready.
Eddie Pleasant had easily his best game of the 2011 season against Washington last week, picking off two of Keith Price’s passes. Several weeks ago there would have been huge doubts about this unit, recent games are cause for more faith.
The Ducks have forced seven interceptions in the past four weeks, and the defense as a whole has taken a big leap forward. Stanford’s Andrew Luck, while incredibly accurate has had some bad throws this season.
Luck has thrown a pick in four of the Cardinal’s last five games, and he will throw two against the Ducks.
Oregon’s star running back LaMichael James had a huge game against the Cardinal last season, rushing for 257 yards and three huge touchdowns. The game launched his campaign as a serious Heisman candidate, and the Ducks rolled to a huge win.
While Stanford has a great run defense, they haven’t seen backs with the talent of the three-headed monster (James, Kenjon Barner, De’Anthony Thomas). LaMichael will take advantage of a damaged linebacking corp with star linebacker Shayne Skov gone for the season.
The Ducks should rush for 300-plus yards as a team, and be able to move the ball effectively.
Over the past few weeks, there has been a lot of speculation that Darron Thomas is losing control of the team and that freshman Bryan Bennett is the eventual starter this season. After all that Thomas has done and brought this team, to say so is blasphemy.
Head coach Chip Kelly and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich have repeatedly confirmed that Thomas is the starter, and that won’t change any time soon. I personally trust their opinion over the casual fan.
Thomas in his first season as a starter led the Ducks to a national championship game, and injuries have been the only hindrance this season. At full health, Thomas is the obvious starter.
If the receivers would stop dropping his passes, this issue would be non-existent. Four of Thomas’ five picks are on dropped passes. No quarterback can have success with that.
Now at what appears to be close to full health, Thomas will silence the critics and prove why he is the starter of this team.