The Oregon Ducks a 4-0 on the season, 1st in the PAC 12 North, and 3rd in the country. They have already defeated Ohio State and outscored opponents 155-78. They face the Stanford Cardinals, who are 2-2, 4th in the PAC 12 North. Stanford is coming off a 35-24 loss to the 24th ranked UCLA Bruins and has a win against the 14th ranked USC Trojans. Oregon is currently a 7-point road favorite.
Just how good are the Ducks? They defeated Arizona by the score of 41-19 but really had a lackluster performance. Consider the fact that Arizona had lost their last 15 going in and were within striking distance for an upset, down only 24-19 to the Ducks after three quarters. Like most great teams, however, the Ducks were able to turn in on, seemingly at will. In the end, it was a 41-19 blowout win for the Ducks, despite only 206 yards passing by Anthony Brown and 187 yards from the Oregon ground game.
The key to the game was a tight defense with five interceptions and now has nine interceptions, four by safety Verone McKinley III. They also have eight sacks and four fumble recoveries. For the season, Brown has thrown for 773 yards and seven touchdowns. Most impressive is his overall command of the offense, spreading the ball to 16 different players with different recipients finding the end zone—all of this without throwing an interception.
On the ground, CJ Verdell and Travis Dye have been creating havoc for opposing defenses every week. They have combined for 620 yards and seven touchdowns. Not only is Brown excelling as a passer, but he’s also added 163 yards with his feet and two touchdowns.
The Cardinals are led by quarterback Tanner McKee, who has thrown for 863 yards and eight touchdowns without an interception. The trio of Elijah Higgins, Brycen Tremayne, and John Humphreys have combined for 42 catches, 460 yards, and six touchdowns. On the ground, Stanford is averaging a relatively modest 122 yards per game, led by Nathaniel Peat with 196 yards and two touchdowns. Austin Jones has added 118 yards. Defensively, Stephen Herron has three of the team’s five sacks. Stanford has only forced three turnovers, all interceptions.
There are a few things to watch in this one. Both quarterbacks have been excellent in the air. The biggest difference is that the Ducks can create a lot of pressure and have been opportunistic, flying around the ball and creating turnovers. McKee has yet to throw an interception but hasn’t faced a defense like Oregon’s this season. Stanford could try to take the pressure off McKee with the running game, and although effective, have only 71 attempts from the running backs all season.
On the flip side, the Ducks have a significantly better running again, and Verdell and Dye could be licking their chops after UCLA shredded Stanford’s run defense for over 200 yards and three touchdowns this past week.
Should this game be close, the Ducks also have the advantage in the kicking game. Camden Lewis has been perfect on all 20 PATs and 5-for-5 on field goals, including two from beyond 40 yards. Stanford’s placekicker Joshua Karty has also hit every PAT but is only 3-for-6 on field goal tries and only 2-of-5 from 40 yards and beyond.
This game could be close for a half, but the Ducks are clearly the superior team, matching up favorable in the run game against the run defense, the pass rush against Stanford’s offensive line, and the kicking game. Look for Oregon to win and cover the spread.