Stanford at Oregon Spread
This Thursday the No. 5 Stanford Cardinal (7-1) will host the No. 3 Oregon Ducks (8-0) in arguably the biggest matchup in college football this week. The Cardinal will look to put an end to the Ducks national championship aspirations for a second straight season. Oregon hosted Stanford last year ranked No. 1 with a perfect 10-0 record, but would lose 14-17 as a 18.5-point favorite. Oddsmakers aren’t letting last year’s upset dictate the line too much, as the Ducks are currently listed as a 10-point road favorite. Kickoff is scheduled for 9:00 EST at Stanford Stadium and will be televised nationally on ESPN.
Why Oregon Will Cover:
The Ducks have had this game circled for quite some time. To say Oregon is out for revenge would be an understatement. Last year’s loss ruined a special season for the Ducks and I have a hard time believing they will let it happen again. Laying 10-points on the road is almost like laying a field goal with other teams. All eight of Oregon’s victories this year have come by at least 21 points, including a 45-24 win at then No. 16 Washington and a 42-14 victory last time out against then No. 12 UCLA.
Stanford came into the season getting a lot of praise, but they haven’t exactly been the dominant force in the Pac-12 that everyone expected. The Cardinal lost at Utah 21-27 and have had to grind out each of their last three wins over Oregon State, UCLA and Washington.
One of the big reasons the Cardinal were able to pull off the huge upset last year was a result of their defensive line dominating the line of scrimmage. Stanford held the Ducks to just 198 yards on the ground and a mere 207 through the air. While the Cardinal are an impressive 10th in the country against the run (103.3 ypg), they are a not so good 88th against the pass (250.1 ypg). A key factor that can’t be overlooked is that Stanford has lost one of the elite defensive linemen in the country in Ben Gardner (DE), along with fellow returning starter Henry Anderson (Out indefinitely) and backup defensive tackle Ikenna Nwator.
Not only do I think the injuries up front will allow Oregon to get the ground game going, you can’t forget the difference maker the Ducks have at quarterback in Marcus Mariota. You have to remember he was just a freshman last year. He’s matured a great deal and this time won’t be intimidated by the Cardinal defense. Mariota has completed 64% of his attempts for 2,281 yards with 20 touchdowns and no interceptions, while also rushing for 511 yards and 9 scores. Oregon is 8-1 ATS in their last 9 road games vs defenses who are allowing a completion percentage of 58% or better.
Another thing to keep in mind is two of the key players offensively for Stanford from last year’s game are gone. Stepfan Taylor had 161 rushing yards on 33 attempts and tight end Zac Ertz caught 11 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Oregon is 8-1 ATS in their last 9 road games vs defenses who are allowing a completion percentage of 58% or better. Stanford has the 88th ranked pass defense (250.1 ypg) and have allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 63.7% of their attempts.
There’s a solid system favoring Oregon in this matchup. They key is to play on teams who have gained 6.75 or more yards/play in the 3 straight games (Oregon) in a game involving two dominant teams that are outgaining opponents by 1.2 or more yards/play. Oregon is also 8-1 ATS in their last 9 games vs a top level team (winning more than 75% of their games).
Why Stanford Will Cover:
The Cardinal are one of the few programs in the country that have been able to keep the Ducks offense in check and big credit for that has to go to head coach David Shaw and defensive coordinator Derek Mason. Having not played since Oct. 26, Stanford has had more than enough time to put together a game plan to slow down Oregon.
It’s not very often you will find a team as talented as the Cardinal, getting 10-points at home, especially when take into account that Stanford has won 13 straight games at home. If the winning streak wasn’t enough, Stanford is 5-0 ATS in their last 5 home games when listed as an underdog. You also have to factor in the advantage the Cardinal have with this being a weekday home game.
Stanford has won 13 straight games at home and are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 home games when listed as an underdog.
The Ducks most recent game against UCLA ended up being a blowout, but the end result doesn’t tell the whole story. The Bruins were tied 14-14 at the half and trailed just 14-21 going into the 4th quarter. That’s a very encouraging sign for the Cardinal. If UCLA can keep it close for three quarters on the road, there’s no reason to think Stanford can’t do it for four quarters at home.
The fact that Oregon comes in 7-1 ATS in 2013 is one of the big things that has to make you think oddsmakers have inflated this line by a wide margin. They know the public is going to pound the Ducks as long as the spread is within reason and 10-points certainly won’t scare away anyone. You have to believe the value is with Stanford.
The key thing to remember in a huge rivalry game like this is that you can’t rely too much on the stats. I think Stanford proved that point last year when they went on the road and held an Oregon offense that was averaging over 50-points to a mere two touchdowns. The Cardinal are 36-17-1 ATS in their last 54 games overall, 18-8 ATS in their last 36 vs a team with a winning record and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 vs teams who are scoring 37 or more points/game.
Early Lean – Oregon -10