It’s 2012, and the Cardinal heads to Autzen Stadium in mid-November for the conference deciding game. The Stanford-Oregon game has decided the conference championship since 2009 and have become the must-see game in the PAC-12. The rivalry has garnered national attention, and College Gameday is on scene for the showdown, which Stanford ultimately wins in overtime 17-14.
Fast forward six years. College Gameday is back, but this time, the game isn’t clearly for the conference crown yet. The game is earlier in the year, but with both teams starting off hot, it’s the game to watch in college football this week.
This matchup seems awfully reminiscent of the Stanford-Oregon showdowns from 2010-2013. Both teams are ranked in the top 25, are hyped up on offense, and will fight for the PAC-12 crown.
The Oregon passing attack is legit; it’s time to see if the Cardinal secondary is composed of men or boys. The Ducks average over 50 points per game, and you can thank Justin Herbert and his 12 touchdowns for that.
The junior quarterback will likely be the biggest test for the Cardinal secondary all year and will be a new face for the team, as he missed last year’s contest with an injury. In his first three games of the season, Herbert posted an average QBR of 72.2. In comparison, K.J. Costello owns a 59.0 QBR. Oregon has the quarterback advantage in this game.
However, after Herbert, the Ducks don’t have many options on offense. The receiving group struggles to collect their quarterback’s passes every so often, and the team is yet to find their new stud running back after Royce Freeman left for the NFL.
Meanwhile, the Oregon defense is still yet to play anyone noteworthy. They allowed 24 points to Bowling Green, 14 points to Portland State, and 22 points to San Jose State. None of those teams are the same caliber as Stanford. I’m guessing this defense won’t be any better than the one that gave up 49 points to the Cardinal last season.
Yes, they held San Jose State to 29 yards rushing last week, but I don’t need to take the time to look up how good the Spartan running back is to know that Bryce Love is light years better. Yes, Stanford has struggled on the ground so far this year, but doesn’t David Shaw always take his sweet time to get the offense rolling?
Plus, Shaw has an advantage this year that he hasn’t had in years past: the passing game. Tell me which one of those tiny Oregon corners can cover J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and company. The Stanford receivers will have a field day in Eugene.
At the end of the day, this game will be decided by the Stanford secondary. If they are as good as they appear, Stanford will win easy; otherwise, this game could be a close battle.
Ahead of the season, I thought Oregon would win this game, but now, I’m changing my mind. Oregon’s offense is one-dimensional, and although the Cardinal defense is yet to play a top tier offense, they look better than last season, especially the secondary. I’m picking Stanford to win 31-17.