Thursday Nov. 7, 2013 at 6 p.m. Mark your calendars. Clear your schedules. The Oregon Ducks football team is heading to Stanford.
It is very possible the Ducks and Cardinal will clash as undefeated teams. The Ducks are 20 days from kicking off their season at Autzen Stadium against Nicholls State on August 31. Eight games later comes the real test and an important question will be answered: Are the Ducks a championship caliber team? Even though the Pac-12 no longer provides a walk in the park for division foes due to the progress of teams such as UCLA and Washington, Stanford and Oregon may be fighting to keep from adding a crooked number to the loss column.
Last year this heavyweight bout ended in a 17-14 Cardinal victory in OT that came down to the last play ending Oregon’s championship hopes. I can still remember the emotional ride we had in Autzen Stadium. A couple missed opportunities and game winning field goal later, the stadium went silent followed by a slow heartbroken walk home. I recall at one point earlier in the game preparing to rush the field with some buddies. The Ducks entered the game averaging 54.8 points per contest but fell victim to the stingy Stanford defense and left with just 14.
The Ducks have lost a couple of key players on both sides of the ball. Stanford has also lost key players including running back Stepfan Taylor to the Arizona Cardinals and game changing tight end Zach Ertz to Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles. However the Ducks have a plethora of young talent to fill the void and Stanford should be just fine as well, led by undefeated redshirt sophomore quarterback Kevin Hogan.
The game will be televised on ESPN and has potential to be one of the best gridiron battles of the year. It will be interesting to see how far first year coach Mark Helfrich can captain the Ducks. Mariota is entering his prime as a college quarterback while De’Anthony Thomas will likely continue to produce SportsCenter highlights.
Prediction: Ducks 24 – Cardinal 17. Thoughts?