Oregon Vs. Stanford: The Ducks will win if. . .

Photo Credit: Russ Long

Well Oregon fans, the time has finally arrived. The big one we’ve all been waiting for/dreading has finally arrived. Four weeks ago, no Ducks fan on the planet would have likely predicted an Oregon victory. But now, after 3 straight victories, hope has been restored -enough to make things interesting anyway.

Make no mistake, this match up has all the makings to be Oregon’s toughest match up of the season. But–and this is a BIG but (stop singing)–the Ducks could win IF. . .

They have a balanced offensive attack.
As we witnessed last week against Cal, this Oregon offense is finally coming into its own and I’d be willing to say, it might just be the most deep and most talented it’s been in years. The earlier season losses really aren’t reflective in that the Oregon offense really is predicated on having a solid, duel threat quarterback- something that just wasn’t there until a healthy Vernon Adams Jr. returned in October. The evidence speaks for itself. Had he not been hurt, the Ducks very well could be in the playoff discussion. Given the defensive woes, that may be a stretch, but you get the drift. With Adams Jr. back in the mix, the offense is clicking all over the place and will be very tough for Stanford to stop.

They convert on 3rd down and keep Stanford’s offense off the field.
In 2012 and 2013, Stanford managed to beat the Ducks by controlling time of possession and winding down the clock with their strong run game. By keeping Oregon’s potent offense of the field, they controlled the game and sent Oregon packing. That formula has been incredibly effective against the Ducks in recent years and Oregon knows that. This year, it may just be time for Oregon to take this page out of the Cardinal playbook. Oregon needs to use its talented backs, much like it did last week against Cal.

The motto: Grind it on the ground, keep the chains moving, and play smarter, NOT faster. To do that though, Oregon will have to establish a successful passing game. Again, the talent is definitely there.

The Defensive Front does what they’ve been doing.
Against an experienced quarterback like Kevin Hogan (and a crushing running back like Christian McCaffrey), Oregon’s defensive front will be key. If they cannot shut down Stanford’s run game—at least some of the time—Oregon’s hope for an upset will be toast. Fortunately, that front 7 includes DeForest Buckner, who is 2nd best in the conference in sacks. One or two may just be enough to rattle Kevin Hogan just enough.

Secondary Coach, John Neal, stays upstairs
Again, the evidence speaks for itself. Before its game against Cal, Oregon’s defense looked horrendous, making even mediocre quarterbacks look like Heisman contenders. All that changed against Cal after one minor change was made. It seems being able to see the field from above made a world of difference for the Oregon Secondary, something that was confirmed by Head Coach, Mark Helfrich and players alike. On a side note, all of this could play in Oregon’s favor if Stanford looks past last week and ends up underestimating this group.

Look for at least one interception by the Ducks. That may mean the difference between a “W” and an “L”.

Oregon’s O-line plays like it did last week.
Against Cal, it seemed as if Vernon Adams Jr. had all day to throw the ball. This obviously did wonders for the offense, allowing Adams Jr. to get through his reads and spread out the field- Oregon’s money maker. Sure, there was some scrambling at times, but overall the line helped the offensive playmakers do what they do best- make big plays.

The Oregon Special teams can play a solid game.
In a game like this, field position will be incredibly important. Last week, Cal blocked two punts against the Ducks. Clearly, that won’t fly this Saturday if the Ducks are going to bring home the victory. Look for Oregon punt and kick-off returners, Bralon Addison and Charles Nelson, to come up big. This game could very well come down to luck and big plays. These two guys don’t need the luck part, but if either or both can take one back to the house, Oregon could take the game.

It’s going to be a good one folks! Oregon is playing as the underdog by 10 points. Call me crazy, but personally, I think Vegas got this one wrong.

Welcome to college football in November.

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