Last year, all hoped looked lost for the Cardinal in Eugene. They trailed 24-7 at half before coming back to win in overtime. With so many injuries, it might take a similar miracle for the Cardinal to win Saturday.
Justin Herbert has looked like the Heisman contender that most expected him to be. His completion clip is almost 75 percent, and he’s thrown 11 touchdowns and not a single interception. He should not have an issue continuing his success against the Cardinal. In back-to-back weeks, freshmen quarterbacks have picked apart the Stanford secondary for over 300 yards. If two true freshmen could embarrass Stanford, just imagine what a potential number one pick and Heisman candidate could do.
To have a chance in this game, Stanford will need take advantage of Oregon’s new center. It appears that their starter is hurt, and Calvin Throckmorton, who is no slouch as a four-year starter on the line, will likely be snapping the ball. Still, Stanford’s defensive tackle Jovan Swann will need to lead the pass rush and put pressure on Herbert.
Stanford will likely need to keep up with the Oregon offense if they hope to win. The Cardinal might find it difficult to reach the end zone, as the Oregon defense has only allowed nine points in the past two games. Overall on the season, they’ve sacked the quarterback 10 times and recorded five interceptions. In other words, they’ve been troublesome on opposing quarterbacks. KJ Costello, who will likely be the focal point for the Cardinal offense, will have his hands full against the Ducks.
Stanford probably can’t win this game, but Oregon can lose it. Oregon is undoubtedly the better team and should be 3-0, but they do make mistakes, which is the reason for their Auburn loss. Against Auburn, Oregon had a crucial dropped pass from one of their receivers, a missed field goal, and Herbert fumbled, which set up an Auburn score.
The Cardinal will need to force mistakes in this game. They’ll need to force turnovers and need to have long possessions. I mentioned in my last article how Connor Wedington could be the key to success. In this game, Costello will need to get the ball off quickly, and Wedington would be his best target in those situations. Still, I like the Ducks in this one as I believe Herbert will be too much to handle. Plus, you know Oregon has a little more motivation wanting revenge last year’s loss.
My prediction: Oregon wins 35-24.