NCAA Football Saturday: #6 Oregon at #3 Stanford

Don’t expect another 9-6 snooze-fest in this match-up of Top 10 teams for Week 11. The prolific offenses of the #3-ranked Stanford Cardinal and the #6 Oregon Ducks clash tonight in what is likely to be a high-scoring showdown between two of the most dynamic and exciting teams in all of College Football, albeit with both sides’ offense producing their scoring in very different ways. In this match-up of the two best squads in the Pac-12 this season, we’re geared up for a return to big offense, big plays, and big excitement for online sportsbook betting action on Saturday night NCAA Football, between two teams that are averaging a combined 92 points and 1016 yards of total offense per game through 9 games played. So if you were still wondering about whether this was going to be a high-scoring match-up or not…don’t worry about it. We’ve got your offense, and the scoring lined up in this one folks, for what is sure to be the most exciting contest scheduled this weekend for NCAA College Football.

While the 3rd ranked Cardinal have hinged their successes on star quarterback Andrew Luck, likely to be taken 1st overall in next year’s NFL draft, the Oregon Ducks have pursued the ground game approach behind their star running back LaMichael James, another candidate for a 1st round entry into the NFL draft next season. Both stand-out players have produced insane numbers for their teams this season as expected, with Luck throwing for 2424 yards on a 71.3 percent completion rate, 26 TDs to just 5 INTs, and a ridiculous 174.1 passer rating, and James rushing for 1061 yards on 133 carries (8 yards/carry) with 9 TDs. However, judging either team by their star player would be doing both of these great squads an injustice, and would leave out so many critical components to what has put these two teams amongst the best in the country. Starting first with Oregon’s quarterback Darron Thomas, who while not being the traditional pocket QB has still impressed with 19 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions, leads the Oregon spread-option, no huddle offense with a veteran presence to help confuse opposing defenses and keep them scrambling to get to the line. Though quickness has been a key to Oregon’s game and success, it has also put added pressure on the Ducks defense, which has to spend an average of almost 10 more minutes on the field than the Stanford Cardinal D has this season (36 minutes vs. 27 minutes per game), which has no doubt resulted in Oregon coughing up about 4 points per game more than Stanford does, despite having relatively similar levels of talent there.

Consider also that Andrew Luck is no one-man show. Behind him sits the FBS’ 17th-ranked running game, which puts down 224.7 yards a contest due in part to the Cardinal’s superb offensive line led by “Moose” Martin (TL) and David DeCastro (G). With two NFL-quality linemen amongst a well-developed, Jim Harbaugh-built offensive scheme blocking for Stepfan Taylor, the 5’11″ junior running back out of Mansfield, TX (147 carries, 891 yards, 8 TDs), the Cardinal offense has to be checked in both the running as well as the potent passing game, something that can be frustrating to any opposing defense. Most unfortunately for said opposing defenses, is that the threats don’t even stop there…one must also take into account the 3 tight end approach, with each receiver over 6’6″ tall, and likely all bound eventually for the NFL. Known around Stanford’s campus as “Tree’s Company” after the school mascot, Coby Fleener (431 yards, 8 TDs), Zach Ertz (308 yards, 3 TDs), and the 6’8″ Levine Toilolo (216 yards, 4 TDs) have combined to contribute 16 touchdowns to the Stanford offense’s bottom line, and despite it looking like Zach Ertz will not starting tonight, the Oregon defense will undoubtedly have its hands full against the other two stand-outs.

Without a doubt, the talent involved in this game will make for a similar type contest as we’ve seen in the last two years between Oregon and Stanford, and the trend has always been towards scoring a lot of points, and trying to keep the other team from playing catch-up. In the 2009 meeting between these two schools, Stanford prevailed 51-42 at home after jumping out early, and in 2010 Oregon overcame a 3-TD deficit in the first half to¬† blow Stanford out of Autzen Stadium with a 52-31 win. However, in this year’s match-up Stanford stands out as having a significantly better defensive unit, which could mimic the performance of the LSU Tigers in Week 1 (allowing just 95 yards rushing to the Ducks) to focus on shutting down LaMichael James, and forcing bad decisions at QB. With Stanford allowing just 3 yards/carry this year, Oregon will have to hope to crack that strong defensive line, and also balance the offensive attack to keep the ball moving downfield the way they do so well. They’ll also want to find a way to keep their own offense on the field a bit longer, in the hopes of preventing Andrew Luck from dictating the pace of the game and ball possession too much in Stanford’s favor.

Betting Lines for Oregon vs. Stanford at Intertops.eu Sportsbook

In this match-up of Pac-12 titans, the betting lines draw in very close today at Intertops.eu, with the Stanford Cardinal getting the slight favorite at -140 odds to win. On the road, the Ducks come in as a +120 underdog, indicating that despite the home field advantage for the Cardinal, these teams are otherwise about as well-matched as you could ask for. That’s further depicted in the points spread for this game, which stands at 2.5 points (-115 for Stanford to cover, -105 for Oregon to play with), and is one of the tightest lines seen this season for Pac-12 football. Lastly the over/under for this game indicates the bookmakers’ conviction that we will see a high-scoring game tonight, with 71 points the mark to beat or stay under, at -110 odds either direction.

Our Pick to Win:

In a game of two teams with great offensive abilities, defense may actually become the most valuable factor in deciding the outcome at the end of tonight’s match-up, especially as Oregon and Stanford seem to offset one another in talent this year more so than they have in years’ past. In a defensive assessment of today’s game, I like the Stanford Cardinal, who have done very well against the rush, and would do well to hone in on stopping LaMichael James’ progress. Thus, it may be up to Oregon to devise a game plan that shifts the offensive balance more evenly to the passing game, in order to exploit an area where Stanford can be exposed. At any rate, while defense could make the difference in the late stages of a close game, ultimately it’s all about the offense, all about scoring, and all about who crosses the 50 point threshold first. Standing behind Andrew Luck to help pull his veteran team through at home tonight, we’ll back Stanford to edge out a win at home tonight, 45-35 over Oregon.

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