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Pick - Analysis
The biggest college football game of the week is on... Thursday. Oregon puts their undefeated record on the line as they travel to Stanford. The Cardinal ruined the Ducks' chance for a spot in the BCS National Championship last year and will be looking to do the same, this time at home. Oregon opened up at -7 -120 at betonline and have been bet up to -10.5.
The Cardinal already have a conference loss, but like last year, that won't matter if they can win this game. A win would put them in the driver's seat of the Pac-12 North with two winnable conference games remaining.
The Ducks have been coasting this year, but that was to be expected even without Chip Kelly leading the way. In games many thought would be close, the Ducks squashed Washington on the road 45-24, and in their last game dismantled UCLA 42-14.
However, looking at last year's matchup, none of that may matter. As 18.5-point underdogs, Stanford shut down this Oregon offense to just 14 points, including a stop in overtime. Marcus Mariota had the worst game of his young career in that game, passing for only 207 yards with one TD and one INT. While he did have 89 yards on the ground, most of that came on a 77-yard scamper.
Mariota will try and put last year's defeat behind him and continue his stellar 2013 with 29 total touchdowns and no interceptions. De'Anthony Thomas is close to being 100 percent healthy after playing in limited time last game. Even if he isn't completely healthy, Byron Marshall continues to shine, now with five straight 100-yard games. Josh Huff and Bralon Addison have been consistent in the passing game, both with 38 receptions and a combined 13 TDs.
The Stanford defense has looked stout since their loss at Utah. In their last two games, the Cardinal have allowed just 22 points total to UCLA and Oregon State, two of the best offenses in the Pac-12. Their method to winning last year was to keep Mariota and company off the field, which showed in their 37 minutes in time of possession.
In last year's matchup, it was Stepfan Taylor getting 33 carries, and this year it's going to be Tyler Gaffney getting the ball as much as possible. Against UCLA, he racked up 36 carries. Gaffney has done well to take over for Taylor this year with 886 yards and 12 TDs in 2013. If they can run the ball like last year, expect a similar, low-scoring game. Although, if Gaffney can't find room, that means more opportunities for Mariota, which means more points.
Quarterback Kevin Hogan didn't do too much in last year's win as it was the running game that led the way. And if needed, Hogan hasn't really shown he can lead his team to a win solely on his arm. He only has one loss as the starting QB for Stanford, but that's not saying a whole lot. He has passed for just three TDs in the past four games, which just shows how much he's needed in the scoring game.
If Oregon comes out with some quick points, it may fall to Hogan to pick the Cardinal up.
The Ducks are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 conference games and 13-3 ATS in their last 16 road games. The Cardinal are 18-8 ATS in their last 26 vs. a team with a winning record. The Ducks have covered in four of the last five meetings between these teams in Stanford.
We mentioned revenge in our Baylor-Oklahoma write up and we'll mention it again here in this one. We love revenge, and we hate revenge. We love revenge when we have it working with us in conjunction with other handicapping factors. We HATE it when we have it working against us, against other handicapping methods. Such is the case here.
If we were to look at the stats presented to us here without team names attached, the conclusion would be that Oregon is the better team but that Stanford is a very live home dog in this spot. Stanford's yards per point numbers are just about as good as Oregon's on both sides of the ball and that's against a more difficult schedule. Our model also agrees as it has Oregon on top but just by 4 points.
Ah, but revenge has to get in the way. Stanford was the last team to beat Oregon. A 17-14 decision last year in Oregon. Ya think Oregon wants to return the favor? Ya think they are capable? Heck, all the Ducks have done since that loss is win every game, 10 total, and they covered 9 of those! You want to stand in there way here while they attempt to correct the only blemish on their record going back to last season? No thank you.
We'll offer two opinions here. The numbers say Stanford plus the points and Under 61.5 are the way to go here. We explained above why we are passing. Opinions only Stanford +10.5 and Under 61
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