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Arizona vs. Stanford
Betting Line: Stanford -9 o/u 57
The Stanford Cardinal have been quietly successful since their loss to Oregon
just over a month ago. In that game they got off to a fast start and led at half
time, but were unable to seal the deal as the Ducks ultimately ran away. This
week they will face Arizona at home in what is going to be a battle for second
place in the Pacific 10. They are a big favorite at 9.5 points.
Wildcats stand at 7-1 with a marquee win over Iowa. It will be interesting to
see how they fare in a big time road game. Will HC Mike Stoops lead his Wildcats
to a big win on the road, or will HC Jim Harbough keep Stanford rolling at home?
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Stanford's offense is powered by their exceptional QB Andrew Luck. He has passed for 1,920 yards and 20 TDs this year. Not only that, but he also gained 345 yards and 3 TDs on the ground. His longest run was 52 yards. Arizona will have to keep their eyes on him because Luck is dynamic and will make them pay with the deep ball, AND with his legs. Sophomore RB Stepfan Taylor can mix things up on the ground. He has rushed for 728 yards and 7 TDS this year. Senior Doug Baldwin is the top WR for Stanford with 33 catches for 458 yards and 6 TDs. The Cardinal rank 5th in the nation in Points For at 42.4 PPG, but this is the first truly good defense they will have played n 201.
The Arizona Wildcats rank 12th in the nation in Passing Yards/game at 330.6. Junior QB Nick Foles is expected to start after missing the last two games due to injury. He is prone to throwing INTs, but he also gets points on the board. His biggest game this year came when he passed for 440 yards and 3 TDs against a strong Oregon State team. If he falters the Wildcats can rely on RBs Keola Antolin, and Nic Gringsby. They have combined for 14 TDs this year. Scoring on Stanford won't be easy. If Foles has any rust it could cost them big time. An ideal situation for the Wildcats would be Antolin and Gringsby doing the work in the 1st half while Foles gets his bearings, and then they can air it out in the 2nd half.
Stanford's defense looked incredible on the road against Washington last week. It was arguably the best defensive effort by any team this year. They held Jake Locker and company to a measly 107 yards of total offense. That is unheard of. Especially for a team that gave up 625 yards to Oregon and 499 yards to USC. If they can play even half that good this week then this game is signed, sealed, and delivered in favor of the Cardinal. This defense can get pressure on the QB and they get turnovers too. They rank 40th in the FBS in Points Against at 21.3 PPG. Arizona has their work cut out for them trying to score on Stanford.
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Even though Stanford has rock solid defense, Arizona might be even better. The Wildcats rank 7th in the FBS in Points Against at 14.4 PPG. They allow only a meager 287 yards of offense per game. You won't see them get too many sacks, but they are very effective at getting stop and keeping points off the board. In the end that is the only thing that matters for a defense. They could have problems with Andrew Luck. The dynamic player is a threat to pass and run. They will need to produce their best effort of 2010 in order to knock off the Cardinal.
No better way to test a defense than to go up against this Stanford team that can put up points in buckets. That will be the most interesting part of this game for us. The Arizona defense against the Stanford offense. Last week we released Stanford as a Key Release and were rewarded with a win that was basically over before it started. Will that be the case again this week?
The numbers here point to Arizona. One set of numbers we use has Stanford winning along the lines of 27-21. The yards per point stats also favors Arizona with Stanford coming in at 4 points better on offense but Arizona 4 points better on defense. That would make the game pick em on a neutral field. So, handicapping this game strictly by the numbers has Stanford winning this one by anywhere 4 to 7 points. With the line getting close to -10, and perhaps hitting -10 before kick off, it would be a lean towards Arizona.
But sometimes common sense takes over and keeps us off a play. To start with, the difference between our numbers and the betting line isn't significant enough to warrant an automatic play. But more importantly, simply looking at past results shows us that perhaps the Arizona defense isn't all it's cracked up to be. Good perhaps. Not great. Those stats are padded by having shutting down Toledo, Citadel, Washington State and Washington. Good teams scored plenty on them. Iowa scored 27, Oregon State 29, UCLA 21. No question Stanford is going to get their points this week. Can Arizona go toe to toe and keep up? We don't think so. Either way, we want no part of any game where it comes down to another team having to keep up with this Stanford offense. Pass.