It’s duck-hunting season, but can anyone take down the Oregon Ducks?
Not likely. At 10-0, Oregon has its sights set firmly on the national championship game, and the Ducks have the numerical bona fides to get there. With Alabama faltering on Saturday, the spotlight now is shining brightly on Oregon and the insane numbers that the Ducks have posted this season.
Coach Chip Kelly has basically turned the college game on its head with a frantic style of play that has caught traditional teams by surprise. The Ducks come at you with a battalion of running backs – six different players average more than five yards each time they lug it. And while Oregon runs twice as often as it passes, QB Marcus Mariota can also beat you – he has 28 TD passes and a 71.7 completion rate.
The only speed bumps located between OSU and an undefeated regular season, are dates with Stanford (home) and at Oregon State, each of whom have two losses.
And at first glance it would appear that the Cardinal have the defensive resolve to hold off Oregon. Stanford is the No. 1-ranked team in the country against the run (58.9), and by a significant margin. Over a three-game stretch in October the Cardinal held Cal, Washington State and Colorado to a combined 40 yards on the ground (on 72 carries, a an average of more than minus-five yards). Still, doing anything approaching that against Oregon would dwarf what the Spartans did at Thermoplae.
A look at that game and a few other important battles this coming week, as always with a thanks to Peter Korner, founder and president of the Las Vegas-based oddsmaking service, The Sports Club.
Stanford (+24) at Oregon
“Oregon is right there,” said Korner in referring to a possible spot in the BCS championship game, “and their M.O. is keep to keep the accelerator to the floor. They are going to try to win byas many as possible. That’s just the way they do things.” One member of Korner’s oddsmaking team recommended a 17-point line, but the higher number prevailed.
Kansas State (-12) at Baylor
Korner says that books may go even higher on this number. “Alabama losing [to Texas A&M] on Saturday will only cause K-State to keep things rolling,” he says. “We had this one as low as 9 and as high as 14.5, so I settled in at 12. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one higher at the books.”
Wake Forest (+24) at Notre Dame
“There are just a few teams that can win a national title,” points out Korner, “and Notre Dame is one of them.” Wake Forest is coming off a bad (37-6) loss at North Carolina State and its only quality win (North Carolina) was in early September.