The Ducks traveled south to The Farm in hopes of breaking the Curse of the Cardinal, proving to all the non-believers that they could beat a physical team such as Stanford.
They accomplished neither.
One of the biggest factors was the play of Oregon’s line on both sides of the ball. Both the offensive and defensive liners were overpowered by a much more physical Stanford team which, on defense, constantly put pressure on Mariota — who presumably was not 100% healthy — and easily ran the ball on offense, for a total of 274 yards.
Defensively, the Ducks could not stop the run. Tyler Gaffney tallied a total 157 yards on a video game-like 45 carries. What really hurt Oregon, however, was a failure to stop third-down conversions; the Cardinal faced a third-and-two (or less) seven times, and Tyler Gaffney ran for a first down all seven of those times.
On the offensive side of the ball for the Ducks, it was the same story — physical domination on the OL by Stanford. Marcus Mariota had his worst quarterback rating of the season (75.4), while being pressured on what seemed like every snap. Not only did Stanford get pressure on Mariota but it came from a mostly three-man rush, as they bullied Oregon’s offensive line. With only three men rushing, Stanford was able to drop back in coverage and cover the entirety of the field.
Oregon is a talented team and is one of the best in the nation. If they want to take that next step and contend for a national title, they must address their line issues by becoming a more physical team overall. If they accomplish this, they could be a contender for years to come.
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