Why Stanford will beat Oregon

Stanford cornerback Johnson Bademosi dives in an attempt to stop what would turn out to be a 10 yard run for running back Kenjon Barner during Oregon's 53-30 win over Stanford Saturday, Nov. 12. (Michael Ciaglo/Oregon Daily Emerald)

Stanford cornerback Johnson Bademosi dives in an attempt to stop what would turn out to be a 10 yard run for running back Kenjon Barner during Oregon's 53-30 win over Stanford Saturday, Nov. 12. (Michael Ciaglo/Oregon Daily Emerald)

Posted by Emerald Submissions on Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 6:29 pm.

**Editor’s Note: Each week during football season we will feature an essay from the opponent’s student newspaper on how Oregon will lose. This week’s edition is from Miles Bennett-Smith, the sports reporter at Stanford’s Stanford Daily.**

History is rarely kind to the underdog.

In colonization, in investment banking, in politics and in sports, the favorites usually come out on top. This is the driving principle behind the joy and excitement that comes from seeing the U.S. Olympic hockey team’s “Miracle” at Lake Placid and watching the ’69 Mets win the World Series or stories like Rudy. (I will always love you “Remember the Titans,” but T.C. Williams was a football team loaded with talent.)

For sports fans, rooting for the underdog is so much nobler than rooting on the teams that win a lot, or seem to win a lot. That’s why everyone hates the Yankees, Manchester United and the SEC — you have to give me that one, Ducks fans.

On Saturday night, Stanford slips into that role, hoping to be Cinderella at the ball, stealing a win at Autzen Stadium before the clock strikes midnight.

Oregon opened as a 24-point favorite on the basis of perhaps the most efficient offense in the last 20 years (this is where Baylor fans and RGIII cry fowl). Without question, the Ducks should win this game on paper.

The lesser-known weapons like Josh Huff, Bralon Addison and Colt Lyerla — I have to stop and acknowledge that Lyerla is like Optimus Klein with better hands — on the outside are scary, Kenjon Barner is terrifying and Marcus Mariota should at least be sitting in the audience in New York City when they hand out the Heisman next month.

It’s crazy to think that Stanford will get close to covering, let alone winning.

But it was crazy to think No. 1 Alabama would lose last week, then Johnny Football and Texas A&M came along. It was crazy to take Stanford beating USC when the Trojans were legitimate 41-point favorites.

Those happened, so maybe Saturday is when the Ducks finally get their wings clipped.

If Kevin Hogan is on his game and handles the pressure, the kid is really good. Ty Montgomery isn’t an elite receiver, but he has elite speed. So does Kelsey Young, and Stepfan Taylor should get a chance to play on Sundays because he is one of the most well-rounded running backs to ever come out of the program. And Zach Ertz is the best tight end in college football.

By the way, the Cardinal defense is nasty. Chase Thomas leads a linebacking core that has three, maybe four, legit NFL prospects. The secondary is much improved, and while they have had problems with Oregon’s speed the last couple of years, and that’s unlikely to change, if they hold their assignments they might slow down the Ducks just enough for the defensive line to make its mark.

The Ducks generally wear teams down so that by the second half, it’s off to the races with Barner, Mariota and De’Anthony. For the Cardinal to win, it has to temper the excitement sure to be gained from slowing Oregon at all in the first half and maintain control throughout the game because with that kind of speed on turf, three touchdowns on three touches in three minutes doesn’t even make Kelly blink.

No matter. Because the biggest chink in the flashy Nike armor Oregon will be wearing stems from the rash of injuries to the defense, and they can’t be covered with band-aids.

I know plenty of the players out against Cal will probably play this weekend, but the depth is still thin in many places. Stanford’s offense can put up points, and then it might just be about whether the Cardinal can score slowly enough to keep the Ducks off the field.

Stanford said many of the same things last year, before the Ducks went out and made Mr. Luck more like Mr. Irrelevant. But that doesn’t change the fact that if Oregon doesn’t play well, and Stanford does, the Cardinal is primed to be the one smelling roses come January.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Keith-Dennis/1081164398 Keith Dennis

    This is the most well written “Why ________ will beat Oregon” article I’ve read, but I’d expect that from a Stanford student. It’s also the one that adheres closest to reality. If the Ducks don’t lose the turnover margin by 3+, then Oregon rolls. (If you want to know how Stanford beat USC as a 41 point underdog, go back an look at the turnover margin.)

    • Rgyle

      SC was overrated, ‘Luckless’ Stanford underrated, thus that 41 point spread was ridiculous. But agree that Ducks must take care of the ball.

  • http://www.facebook.com/james.a.barnhart James A. Barnhart

    Maybe but the oddsmakers are almost never wrong.

  • Flotsam

    Yes, the Cardinals have a good defense, certainly the best the Ducks have seen. But, as many people have said, the Ducks can score on anyone, on the ground or in the air, just give Kelly a few series to figure out the defense. That’s one of the reasons the Ducks have scored more points per play this season than any other team in the Country. Another reason is that once they figure out the defense, they score in very few plays (unless they are running out the clock). That also means they have fewer opportunities to turn the ball over per point scored.

    Stanford has a very good offense that scores after many plays. But even against a banged up Duck defense they will have to score on the ground and use a lot of plays to do so. Even if they fumble infrequently, they will still turn the ball over more per point scored than the Ducks because it takes so many more plays for them to score, and will have so many more opportunities to cough it up. Every game has the same number of possessions for each team. But If we don’t count a possession with a turnover as a possession, the Ducks will have the ball and opportunities to score more often than Stanford (or anybody else for that matter.) And with their low turnover per point scored ratio they will run away with the game.

    Unless Stanford plays turnover free football, or the Ducks have fumble-itis, there is no way Stanford, or probably anyone, can hang with the Ducks. So hang onto the ball on Saturday, Duckies.

  • Don

    There are really only 2 factors that could turn the game to Stanford, imo. Those are the turnovers and Oregon’s defensive health. I don’t think we know what Oregon’s defense will look like on Saturday.

    But even then, I don’t see Stanford’s defense as being much better than USCs. They gave up 17 points to San Jose, 48 to Arizona, and 23 to Oregon State, the latter two being at home. Now they’re playing an offense that is much better than any of those teams – on the road. Does anyone think Oregon doesn’t score at least 50 on this vaunted defense? And if that’s true, does Miles Bennett-Smith really believe Stanford’s offense will score over 50? This same offense that put up 20 against San Jose, 13 against Washington and 24 at home to Washington State?

    I’m not ragging on the Cardinal. I’m just pointing out that Miles may be living in fantasy land.

    • Miles Bennett-Smith

      I know I might seem crazy, but I promise I live in the real world. This is not a prediction, just some thoughts on what might happen if Stanford is to win. The Ducks are legit.

  • http://twitter.com/KillerBee2020 Mad Duck 2020

    You can tell that was written by a Stanford student. My eyes glazed over and I fell asleep two paragraphs in.

    • hokieduck

      You can tell this comment was written by a less-than-Stanford-student. A couple of “big” words and an allusion or two and said MadDuck’s eyes glaze over. Sorry he did not keep it, caveman, brah.

      Nice article. Well written and realistic. I, for one, cannot believe Vegas has the line at 21 1/2. With a totally healthy defense, I still think that that is high. This game will be a foreshadowing (sorry MadDuck) … if Oregon really does take it to Stanford as Vegas thinks, then this team is truly destined for greatness and Chip Kelly’s unfinished business will be ever closer to accomplishment. An exciting, exhilarating but very sad thought too, as we will almost certainly see the end of an era in Eugene.


    • corevet

      I guess you need more pictures and less text?? Is that how they do it at OU?

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.nickles.1 David Nickles

    Yeah right. Here’s why Oregon wins easily:

    1: Stanford’s D lacks the speed to defend the edge in the running game, and the speed to defend the field vertically in the passing game.

    2: Stanford’s D is a one trick pony: Blitz. Mariota has shown an ability to attack the blitz, escaping pressure and throwing the ball away when necessary. Combine this with Stanford’s weak secondary and Oregon’s superb O-line, and Mariota, Huff, Lyerla, Thomas, and co. will just shred these guys for another 6 TD’s(or more).

    3: Stanford’s D has looked impressive against a bunch of mediocre(or worse) teams and has shown itself to be vulnerable against even marginally good teams(OSU is having a pretty good season, but doesn’t even come close to Oregon in terms of offensive firepower). If not for an unforced fumble by Vaz, OSU wins that game. Oregon will expose this defense and their inflated stats for what they really are: a slightly better than average unit.

    4: Even if Stanford has some success running the ball, they will have to keep pace with the Oregon offense. Enter the freshman QB making his first road start in a night game at Autzen Stadium against the LEGIT number one team in the country. Eventually this Hoagie kid will have to throw the ball to keep them in the game and UO’s linebackers and DB’s will eat his lunch. 4 yard throws to the tight end(their only good receiver) will not get the job done.

    5: Stanford will have to score 50+ points to win this game and they just aren’t built to do that. Final score: Oregon 56, Stanford 20. Better luck next year!

  • http://twitter.com/nicksugai Nickolaus Sugai

    This is well written, but ultimately the thought behind it is misguided. Stanford is no Cinderella here. Lest we not forget, Stanford is #13 in the BCS standings.

    • corevet

      Not #13 anymore are they?

  • picomanning

    Look for the Ducks to work the run. Look for quick Oregon probes to wear down the Cardinal defense. The Ducks to probe for option play opportunities and if Oregon can gain first downs along the way then the Cardinal defense will begin to suffer the weariness that is Oregon’s great quick-Duck ally. The object is and always will be to wear down the Cardinal defense.Oregon can do this only if it can move down the field. For the Cardinal to prevent this they will have to put all their strength on the defensive line, and that is the very risk to the Cardinal those Ducks want to see from the Cardinal. The Ducks are in your face tough and have shown the ability to match any team slap for punch. This will be one of those games.

  • http://twitter.com/KingSully06 Ben Eggersgluss

    Um, this is kind of “duh”. Or course if Stanford plays well and Oregon doesn’t, they have a chance to win. That’s a no brainer and as simple of a reason there is. Oregon can lose any game. They just haven’t. The difference? They don’t let the pressure get to them. They’ve had talent for years. Scored mass amounts of points for some time now. Yet, this team unlike past ones, doesn’t seem to let other teams bother them when those teams hang with them for any amount of time. There is a confidence knowing that no matter what, they’ll keep going. Other teams can’t say that. USC couldn’t and everyone KNEW they could score. Cal tried. Did pretty well…till the 2nd half. Teams can hang with Oregon, good teams. The question always comes down to…how long CAN they hang with them. So far, no one has. They are simply not built to go for 4 quarters at that pace. Even when they lose players for the season or for parts of the game (Boyett, York…Mariota and Barner), Oregon doesn’t slow down. I am not saying Stanford or even Oregon State can’t beat Oregon. They can. But Oregon has faced tough match ups of late…and still won. Good Defense. Good Offense. They’ve faces both. They’ve been punched in the mouth a few times of late. It just comes down to how long a team can hang with them…How long they can keep up that pace. That’s always been the question. And that will be the main question for any team facing them.

  • akduck

    Nice article, but the game will not be played by ideas. It will be played by people. Stanford will slow down and temporarily stop Barner. Then it will be the DAT Huff Lyerla Mariota show and I just can’t see how Stanford will stop them all.. Stanford will score some points, I’m guessing, about 24, which will be about 20 short of winning when the final tally is in.

  • Mephistopheles

    With an assist to Miles, here’s why Stanford will win.

    Stanford yielded 14 points to a USC offense that couldn’t be stopped according to the experts. The same USC offense that recently shredded the Ducks. In years past, USC was able to gash the Card D, but this year was very different. Last season Stanford’s D was riddled with injuries, but this group is not only talented and experienced, but healthy. They’ve also upgraded the secondary at every position, in both talent and athleticism, as well as the added dimension of Usua Amanem at nickle. This Stanford D is considerably better, and faster than the previous two, and Kelly knows it.

    Mariotta has played well, but against WSU, he showed he can be rattled. How will he react against the nation’s best defensive front (statistically, anyway) considering how much trouble Oregon had against similar fronts in the SEC? By the way, how’s that shoulder, Marcus?

    If OU has some trouble scoring on the conference’s best scoring D, can their banged-up D hold up? Stanford’s ground game with Stepfan Taylor is far more potent than that of USC or Cal, yet the Ducks yielded 367 yards in their past 2 games, at a clip of 5 1/2 yards/carry. (Incidentally, Stanford allowed just 24 yards rushing combined against those same teams) Hogan will be making his first road start, but he has been a huge catalyst for the Stanford O, especially extending broken plays. Can OU’s D handle that for 60 minutes?

    Oregon is clearly one of the best football programs in the nation, and beating them at home is a truly tough task, but the smart money is on the Cardinal +21. This game will be closer than the experts think, and a sloppy game by the Ducks could well spell doom for their national title dreams. Thanks to improved speed on D, and the injury issues in Oregon, this is not the match-up nightmare it has been for the Card. Duck fans can be cocky because their team has earned it, but OU’s players know this game will no duck walk.

    • http://www.facebook.com/doug.mai.3 Doug Mai

      Really, so now your in tight with the Duck’s player’s, come in on our site and talk STUPIDITY, the Duck’s will turn the Ball over 3 time’s when they knock it loose from Stanford DUMMY, you just don’t get it, like the rest, If you haven’t noticed the Duck’s don’t give up sack’s, and do you really think your great D is as fast as our slowest player’s, I seriously DOUBT it, and Hogan’s gonna be on his ASS all Game, cause our D may be injured but there really isn’t any significant drop off if at all for thew boy’s that replaced the other’s. All’s I can say is GOOD LUCK with your Dream’s, cause luck isn’t what beat’s a superior Team like the Duck’s, remember he’s in Indy, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

      • corevet

        Hey Doug, Hope you watched the game close last night and saw just how good that Stanford D really is. Post your address and I’ll be sure to send up a big plate of crow for you to enjoy!

    • hokieduck

      Sports are all about matchups. Stanford matches up very well with USC and not so well with Oregon. Oregon matches up with Stanford better than with USC. But no matter what, the game still has to be played.

      Go Ducks. WTD.

  • http://www.facebook.com/doug.mai.3 Doug Mai

    Stanford’s alway’s had one of the top Ds in the Pac 12, so what’s any difference this year from year’s past, nothing on their side, but you forgot to state the obvious, Oregon is better than they’ve ever been and the reason their really rolling opponent’s this year, Marcus Mariota, and seriously do you really think that Hogan’s gonna play good in an environment that will have ESPN Game day on hand, this stadium will be the LOUDEST it’s ever been, so that pretty much spell’s disaster for the Tree’s again, and whoever is the ridiculous people state that the Rain favor’s Stanford, that was so funny I actually pee’d my pant’s. When are you people actually going to believe and quit writing the unbelievable and just state the truth, the Duck’s are going to the BEACH in Janruary, and for the 1st time come home with the crystal.