If you look at this game statistically it heavily favors one team. The Oregon Ducks. Whenever Oregon and Stanford take the field with a lot on the line anything can happen. Yes, Oregon has a ton of weapons on offense this season, as they did last year. However the Cardinal came in to Autzen last season and earned the victory. This year the outcome may be similar to the 2011 outcome on the Farm when these two Pac 12 powerhouse teams faced each other, but the Ducks will have to do a few things differently from last year. And in some cases, they already have.
Last season the Ducks tried a lot of horizontal plays against Stanford and they did not work. Oregon was unable to get to the outside to extend the plays as Cardinal defenders were able to step up and kill the play. This year Mark Helfrich’s team has a different weapon, which they also had last year, but they are using it more effectively. The vertical plays are the key to Oregon’s success on Thursday against the Cardinal. The chess game of 2012 could also turn into a checkmate situation for the Ducks over the Cardinal on the Farm in 2013.
The Oregon Ducks have a ton of weapons on offense, and if you look at just the Quarterback position there is an advantage. Marcus Mariota has made smart decisions this season, so smart he has yet to throw an interception. He is ranked 5th in the country in Pass Efficiency and 3rd for begin responsible for points in a game. On the other side Stanford QB Kevin Hogan is ranked 27th in Pass Efficiency and has thrown 5 interceptions.
The Ducks in 2013 have quietly become one of the better Defensive units, and unlike Stanford everyone is healthy going into the Showdown of the Year in the Pac 12. Stanford has had some bumps and bruises to deal with, including the loss of Defensive End Ben Gardner for the season. Oregon is also expected to have a healthy De’Anthony Thomas for the game. Even if he’s used as a decoy he still has to be covered, which with a depleted Defense could be an issue. Leave no doubt, the Cardinal will give Oregon their best and vice versa.
The outcome will of course happen on the field and not on paper. Reality will set in just before midnight for both of these teams. One will have a path to the Title game, the other likely the Rose Bowl.
Mariota and the Ducks take on Hogan and the Cardinal Thursday Night (6pm PT, ESPN)