For the 6th Year, Stanford Cardinal Matchup Means the Season For Oregon Ducks


There’s only one statistic that counts when it comes to the Oregon Ducks – Stanford Cardinal football matchup on Saturday (4:30pm PT, FOX). Stanford only needs an Oregon loss to clinch the Pac-12 North.

The winner of this game has won the conference title every year since 2010 (in 2009 Oregon lost to Stanford but still won the conference). It’s been Oregon, Oregon, Stanford, Stanford, Oregon. For the 6th straight year this game means everything for the Oregon Ducks.

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In order for a great team to get even better, they need to be pushed.  Stanford has been that team for Oregon, and Oregon has been that team for Stanford. The Ducks have added more ground-and-pound to the offense because Stanford is one of the few teams in the Pac-12 (and for that matter, the college football universe, it seems) to run a traditional, pro-set, ball control offense. The Cardinal have opened the offense up slightly (very slightly), because they know as well as anybody when the Ducks get a lead it’s awfully hard to come back using a traditional, pro-set, ball control offense.

Oregon can win this game, but the Cardinal are not 8.5 point favorites by mistake. With the exception of rolling over a Cal team that has lost its way, the Duck defense has been ripped apart. While Stanford’s Kevin Hogan is nobody’s idea of an élite quarterback, he is surrounded by playmakers, most notably Heisman candidate sophomore running back Christian McCaffrey, who leads the nation in all-purpose yardage by a wide margin. Wide receiver Francis Owusu has only one TD catch on the year, but man, it was an all-timer.

The Ducks have their share of top players. Vernon Adams is much closer to being the QB we thought he could be. Royce Freeman is just the 4th Duck with back-to-back 1,000 yard rushing seasons. Back from suspension, wide receiver Darren Carrington doesn’t seem to have missed a beat.

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If Oregon wins, they still need to win out and have Stanford to lose again to win the Pac-12 North. Still, for the 6th year in a row, it’s the same story: this game means everything for the Ducks. Kickoff for this one is set for 4:30pm Pacific Time on FOX.