The Pac-12 North Division is on the line this weekend when the Stanford Cardinal take to Autzen Stadium to square off against undefeated and the No. 2 ranked Oregon Ducks. The game will take place at 8:00 p.m. ET and will feature on ABC.
Stanford has been on a roll as of late, winning five of the last six games, including one of the more impressive victories last week over a respected Oregon State program. And while the team is quickly building confidence, it isn't going to matter much against the Ducks this weekend.
Oregon has won nine of the last 10 meetings against Stanford and shouldn't have much of a problem in this contest considering the way the team has played throughout the year.
Here is why Oregon will continue its impressive play and win another one as the Ducks lock up a bid to the Pac-12 Championship and take one step closer to reaching the BCS National Championship.
Oregon Can't Be Stopped Offensively
The reason not too many teams can even compete with the Oregon Ducks is that they simply score way too many points. The team is averaging at least 36 more yards than every other team in the Pac-12 and leads the country with 54 points per game scored on average.
The Ducks have always been great offensively, but they're faster than they have ever been and are scoring at a much quicker rate. More than 50 percent of their third-down attempts are being converted, 83 percent of the Ducks' red -zone trips result in touchdowns and there have been 30 plays that have gone for over 30 yards.
This team has looked absolutely unstoppable on the offensive side of the ball and has received high praises from every team that has been unfortunate enough to play it. Former Ducks running back LaMichael James even said that the offense is the most explosive he has ever seen in his life.
If there is any team on the schedule that can slow down this Ducks attack, it would be Stanford because it has a physical front seven and is currently first in the Pac-12 in yards allowed. However, the Cardinal has had a top-two defense in the conference the last two seasons, and Oregon has still scored a combined 105 points when these two squads have met.
Stanford has been extremely talented on the defensive side of the ball, but the Ducks have abused this unit the last two years, rushing for nearly 400 yards in 2010 and averaging over five yards a carry in last season’s meeting.
The defense of the Cardinal may be physical, but it lacks the speed to keep up with all of the explosiveness on Oregon's offense. The Ducks are averaging close to seven yards a play and while Stanford has players that could provide the toughest test yet, it simply won't be enough to pull off the upset.
Great offenses figure things out and will find ways to put points up on the board. It is no different with head coach Chip Kelly calling the shots this weekend.
Stanford Doesn't Have Enough Offense
When playing a team like Oregon, it all comes down to whether or not you have enough offensive weapons to keep up. Of course, you aren't going to beat the Ducks at their own game, but you have to be able to move the football and at least do your fair share of getting into the end zone.
The problem is that Stanford hasn't been able to convert on the offensive side of the ball, as it is sixth in the Pac-12 in scoring and eighth in total offense. Josh Nunes has been far from Andrew Luck this year and has struggled to find any consistency throughout the season, completing fewer than 53 percent of his passes.
The offense lives and dies with running back Stepfan Taylor, as his 225 carries are good for the seventh most in college football. He has done a good job of producing this season, but has also been held to under 100 rushing yards in four games this year.
Oregon will likely allow Taylor to have success this weekend, especially with the Oregon defensive line banged up, but Stanford will need to discover more weapons than the senior running back. Freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan may get the start once again, but he is a young signal-caller that will be up against an Oregon defense that is second in the country with 18 interceptions.
Hogan has played well the last two games, but would need an incredible performance in order to keep up with an Oregon offense. Experienced quarterbacks such as Connor Halliday, Keith Price and Matt Barkley have all stepped up to the challenge and failed miserably.
It is hard imagining a team that has scored over 30 points only three times all year, finally breaking out of its shell and going off in Autzen Stadium.
Note: All stats come from cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted.
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