Coming into this game, it didn't feel like we really knew this Oregon football team. After losing the opener to LSU, the Ducks pounded a bunch of terrible to not-very-good teams. They battled injuries, so we saw a lot of young players and backups get playing time.
What we learned last night is that this team is not like last year's team. It is still explosive offensively, but it has a toughness and physicality that we haven't seen at Oregon in the last few years. If last year's team was a black mamba, this year's team is a boa constrictor. They haven't been playing with the same pace as last year, instead, they slowly suck the life out of other teams.
The Ducks were simply better than Stanford last night, in every phase of the game. They were better on offense, defense, and special teams. The Ducks ran only 63 total plays, and didn't even crack 400 yards, but they didn't need to. After punting on their first two drives, the Ducks scored on seven of their next 9 drives, and Stanford had no answer. The Ducks could do whatever they wanted offensively. The line opened holes and protected Darron Thomas when he went back to pass. The skill position players won their matchups, and the Ducks couldn't be stopped.
Before the game, we talked about Darron needing to have a good game, and he did just that. After the Ducks were fortunate that he was sacked on the second drive, he settled down and went 11/17 for 155. It's not a line that will wow you, but he got the ball to the open players, made some great throws in the red zone, and had the Oregon offense running at full speed.
Defensively, the Ducks sucked the life out of the Stanford. The Cardinal did not have any runs for more than 12 yards. They had only a single offensive play go for more than 20 yards. The defense gave Stanford no room for error. Andrew Luck could not afford a bad pass, and dropped passes would mean the end of a drive. Stanford had to work for every yard it got, and that is not a recipe for success. The Cardinal had 3 touchdown drives that took over 11 plays. In contrast, Oregon's longest drive was 10 plays.
The defensive line did an incredible job. They helped hold Stanford to only 3.7 yards per rush, 2 yards less than their season average. They got to Andrew Luck, previously the least sacked QB in college football. This pressure not only led to 3 sacks and a fumble by Luck, it also led to Luck making poor decisions throwing the ball. With pressure coming down on him, Luck had to try and force throws to receivers and tight ends that could rarely get separation. The Oregon defense came from every different direction, and Stanford could not keep up.
The Ducks just methodically and systematically whooped Stanford. It was a game that felt like it should be closer, and suddenly you look up, and Oregon's up by 20 points. The Ducks didn't need any gimmicks. They went on the road to one of the most physical teams in the country, and took their game to them. The result was the biggest road win of the Chip Kelly era.
It's a great day to be a Duck. Oregon has all but wrapped up a spot in the Pac-12 title game, but now the Ducks get to face a very dangerous USC team. Now that the Ducks have the longest active home winning streak in the country, hopefully we'll defend it a bit better than last time we held that honor.