As an Oregon resident, Ducks vs. Cardinal represents a huge conflict of interest.
Quite frankly, Stanford has been an ATM for the last calendar year in going 14-0-1 against the spread in its past 15 games. Screw stocks and investment banking - letting your winnings ride on a $100 bet with the Cardinal would have netted you $854,125 during Stanford’s unbelievable ATS run.
But, standing in the way of a Cardinal’s 16-game unbeaten ATS streak and potential BCS Championship Game berth are my hometown, Oregon Ducks. Oregon represents Stanford’s only loss in its past two seasons - a 52-31 drubbing at Autzen Stadium last year.
For most Oregonians, the result of this game is a foregone conclusion: Oregon in a rout. It’s just the way things work here in Eugene. Most Ducks fans are so blinded by their passion for Oregon football that any other result is simply not a possibility.
As one diehard fan told me, “F#ck Stanford! They’ll be gasping for air again in the second half versus Oregon’s offense. I really just want a rematch with LSU. Those bitches fluked, I tell ya. They fluked us!”
Out of curiosity, I questioned him, “What if Oregon loses to Stanford?”
He starred at me like I had just told him I was carrying Justin Bieber’s baby. It was a blank look and it lasted a minute or so. Then he said, “Not a chance in Hell. Stanford? Gimme a break.”
The ironic thing about his statement is that Stanford represents the last team to beat Oregon in Pac-12 conference play (November 2009).
The difficult aspect of being around lunatic Duck fans is not getting swept into the Ducks pride storm with them. Heck, I’m bombarded with Oregon football propaganda from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed. Although, I suppose that’s my fault for purchasing Ducks bed sheets. But, I digress.
With all of the swirling Oregon Ducks news engulfing most of Eugene, is it possible for a diehard fan to look at this game objectively rather than subjectively?
Sure, especially since I’ve basically been watching the Ducks since I was a fetus. As long as objectivity is maintained, having a strong background in Oregon football should be a huge advantage.
So, what gives?
The Ducks have folded against power attacks in recent memory. Even in the Ducks’ 52-31 victory over Stanford last season, the Cardinal muscled their way to a 21-3 lead behind its power-rushing attack. In 2009, Stanford utilized their power running game behind Toby Gerhart in their win versus Oregon. Honestly, Stanford is going to be able to score on Oregon.
On the flip side, Stanford’s defense has gaps, both in depth and skill. The Cardinal were exposed by a fairly pedestrian USC offense in Southern California a couple weeks ago. Oregon’s offense presents much more speed and creativity than the Trojans, so it’s hard to imagine Stanford being able to contain the Ducks. Let’s face it, Oregon is going to score on Stanford.
Then, who has the edge?
Anti-Oregon pundits, and Stanford -3.5 backers, are quick to point out that the Ducks have failed in the big games away from Autzen Stadium (Boise State 2009, Ohio State 2009, Auburn 2010, and LSU 2011). Each of those teams that gave the Ducks trouble had 30-plus days to prepare for Oregon’s spread option offense and used size to bully Oregon into submission.
However, Stanford won’t be gifted with a month to prepare for the blur.
Since implementing an extremely up-tempo offense last season, Chip Kelly is undefeated when opponents have had a week or less to prepare for his schemes. While Oregon’s playcalling is simple, the speed and tempo of their offense is difficult to replicate on a practice field in a limited time.
Does Stanford have the depth and conditioning on defense to run with Oregon for 60 minutes? If history is any indication, the answer is no. The 48-10 run Oregon put on Stanford last season is evidence of that.
Here’s the tough part: Will Stanford's limited preparation time end up being a true advantage for Oregon or am I simply a Ducks fan grasping for a glimmer of hope? You be the judge.
But one thing’s for sure, as an Oregonian, I share the same sentiments as the diehard Ducks fan.
Eff Stanford.Til next time, cover the spread.You can follow Sarah Phillips on Twitter @SarahPhilli.