College Football Pick
Stanford is the No. 13 team in the country yet they enter this game as roughly 20-plus-point underdogs, down from an opener of 21.5 at 5 Dimes sportsbook and down from an opener of 24 at betonline. Oregon is a huge favorite for a reason. They are scoring the most points in the nation, just under 55 points per game. Their closest Pac 12 game at home was a 52-21 win over Washington. Stanford doesn't have a high-powered offense, but that hasn't been needed with a stout defense.
Another reason for this line is that Oregon beat Stanford last year by 23 points, in Stanford. Andrew Luck threw two interceptions and Stepfan Taylor only managed 99 yards and zero TDs. If the Cardinal couldn't keep up last year, how will they this year?
Just last week, Stanford changed its starting QB to Kevin Hogan. He completed 76 percent of his passes, but he also threw two interceptions in a 27-23 win over Oregon State. What stands out between Hogan and former starter Josh Nunes is their completion percentage. Nunes was only completing 52.8% of his passes when he lost the job. Hogan, a redshirt freshman has turned in a couple Andrew Luck-esque performances in back-to-back games. His favorite receiver has been Zach Ertz who has 15 catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns in the last two games. On the ground, Taylor surpassed 1,000 yards last week for the third straight season. He has been the only constant in the Cardinal offense this year with 225 carries, 1,061 yards and nine TDs.
The Ducks aren't known for their defense, and they've been off and on all season. They shutout Arizona back in September, but also allowed 51 points to USC. When they do get beat, it's usually through the air because opponents are usually trying to catch up with them. Basically, this game is on Hogan's shoulders.
To put it shortly, Oregon's offense is unstoppable. Marcus Mariota completes over 70 percent of his passes and Kenjon Barner runs through defenses with ease. Mariota has not thrown an interception in four straight games. He has 28 TDs and only five INTs this year. He finds De'Anthony Thomas often out of the backfield, but there are actually nine different Oregon receivers with at least 11 receptions. Five of them have at least three touchdowns. As a team, the Ducks have 3,251 rushing yards and 40 rushing TDs. Barner is good for 1,360 and 19 of those. After a 321-yard, five-TD performance at USC, he was actually stopped for 65 yards at California last weekend.
The Cardinal are 16-5-1 in their last 22 road games and 6-2 ATS vs. a team with a winning record. The Ducks have covered in five straight games, but are 1-4 ATS in their last five home games vs. a team with a winning road record. In this meeting, Stanford is only 2-8 ATS in their last 10 matchups. As expected, the under has hit in four straight Cardinal road games and the over is 25-7-1 in Oregon's last 33 home games. Head-to-head the over has hit in seven straight meetings.
We released Stanford +21 as a Key Release on Monday. It's a game where you have to put aside the hype that goes along with the Oregon Ducks and stick with the numbers. Our model predicts an 8 point Oregon win. That's quite a cushion. If you look at each teams yards per point numbers you'll find Oregon #2 in the nation with a blistering 10.2. Stanford has a ypp number on offense of 12.9, good for 38th in the nation, not too shabby for a team not known for their offense. Defensively, Stanford is 14th in the nation with a yyp number of 18.6 while Oregon is 31st at 16.9.
Stanford has played a schedule that has actually been a tad more difficult than Oregon's. This, combined with the numbers mentioned above as well as our model, put this over the top to become a play this week. We like to use yards per point as part of our handicapping process. We've been looking at these numbers for 30 years. The numbers these two teams come into this game with do not correlate with a 21 point pointspread. Teams that have the ypp numbers that these two have, along with the similar schedules, we'd expect to see a line of around a touchdown or less. Stanford +21