I was going to make a reach for a Wonder Twins quip here, but really, there's little that's wonderful in 2008 for Oregon or Stanford. What long, strange trip it's been so far.
Just a reminder, Stanford beat Oregon State to open the season. They also got absolutely dominated by Arizona State. It would take 100 Stanford business grads to analyze how that happened.
Even more strange are the many ways in which Stanford, 4-2 in Pac-10, and Oregon, also 4-2 in Pac-10, are mirror images of one another. I present to you the following:
* Oregon has a running game. JJ, Bount, Masoli, and others have led Oregon to the number one rushing offense in the conference. The Ducks are averaging 271 yards a game and have scored 32 rushing touchdowns.
* Stanford has the number two rushing offense, led by junior Toby Gerhart (#7), with 911 yards and 13 TDs. Anthony Kimble (#5) has also chipped in 544 yards, but he doesn't frighten us the way Gerhart does.
* The Ducks can also stop the run. UO is #2 behind USC in rushing defense at 106.4 yards a game.
* Then, so can Stanford. The Cardinal are #3 in Pac-10 run defense at 106.6 yards a game.
* Okay, the Ducks can run, but they're also one dimensional with a dismal 184 yards a game passing (even lower lately). That's eighth in the Pac-10, and only slightly better than Washington State.
* Yes, but laugh at this... Stanford actually IS worse at passing than Washington State, and are currently last in the conference at 135 yards passing per game. Coach Jim Harbaugh has resisted playing music chairs at the QB position, but so far Tavita Pritchard has not been real productive.
* Oregon gives up a lot of passing yards - 258 a game to be exact. And with that secondary...again, 100 Stanford MBAs couldn't have predicted that.
* As bad as that is, Oregon's only ninth in the conference. Stanford is the worst, giving up 260 passing yards a game.
Oregon and Stanford both are among Pac-10 leaders for kickoff returns and punt returns. The Ducks have a good punter. The Cardinal do as well. Oregon has recorded 29 sacks this season. Stanford has 30. Oregon has only allowed 14 sacks. Stanford has only allowed 15.
That's it! I'm done with all these stats. Stanford is Oregon's evil twin and that damn dancing tree needs to take a fall this week.
Two teams, sharing the same strengths and yet fighting the same demons. Why do the Ducks win? Home field advantage, plain and simple. Home cookin', sleeping in your own bed, call it what you want. It's worth 3 points, and that might very well be the margin in victory.
Either that or the two teams actually cancel each other out like that weird old episode of Star Trek (we'll see which ATQer is a closet trekie and comes up with the actual episode name and when it first aired...). Could we possibly be forced to suffer through a wet and windy repeat of the 1983 Toilet Bowl?