Scott Olmos-US PRESSWIRE
Apparently, everyone else is seeing something I'm not, because I see no reason to fear the Cardinal's invasion of Eugene this weekend.
The spread for Oregon/Stanford started at 24. It currently sits at 20.5, and is still dropping. The defense is a MASH unit. And Stanford has a physical run game that could really punish Oregon's defensive line.
That said, I'm not sure that I share in the concern. Stanford's offense has had Andrew Luck the last two years, and they haven't scored above 31 points, losing by three touchdowns each time. The Cardinal's offense has been largely anemic this season, prompting a mid-season change to a freshman quarterback in Kevin Hogan who will be making his first road start in a night game at Autzen Stadium. Its a team that has no downfield threats, and has relied on a running game that averages 4.4 yards per carry. Assuming that a couple of Oregon's defensive linemen return, and that looks to be a good bet, its going to be awfully tough for this team to put together enough long drives to outscore Oregon.
'But what about the Stanford defense?," you ask. The Cardinal give up only 2.02 yards per carry, a truly phenomenal number. They are great at defending a smash mouth running team, but have had trouble with spreads, as evidenced by what Oregon has done against them the last two years, or even what Arizona did against them earlier this year in scoring 50 on the Cardinal.
Until given reason to believe otherwise, I just don't buy that this year is magically different. Stanford has no elite receivers. They have no speed in the back of their defense. They have had trouble in the past in not letting the Ducks get to the edges. And they don't have a great secondary against a quarterback that can pick a secondary apart. Finally, you're asking a freshman to make his second start--first on the road--in Autzen against a Nick Aliotti defense.
Look, the injuries are concerning. Especially if the Ducks must play USC again this season. But even against SC's best offensive game, the Ducks still won by multiple scores.
GIve me Oregon and the points. Until they can keep from giving up 50+, I don't want to hear any more about their defense.