Stanford is a very good football team this season, don’t let the 5-3 record fool you. Yes, they have lost to USC, Notre Dame and ASU this season but those are not schools that anyone scoffs at. Over those three losses Stanford allowed an average of 14.3 points per game, about two points more than they have allowed on average all season at 12.5 which is good enough to make them the second best in the country.
While their points allowed is impressive, when you look at the rest of their numbers, this match-up starts to look much more manageable. The Ducks are ranked fifth in the country for points per game (45.5), Stanford’s next best opponent was ASU averaging 36.6 points per game, good enough to be ranked 25th in the country. So if ASU was able to drop 26 points (the most Stanford has allowed all season) on this powerful defense, then the Ducks should be more than capable of handling a banged-up Cardinal defense.
Stanford’s defense is paying for its physical style of play this season. In addition to defensive lineman Aziz Shittu and what SFgate.com calls Stanford’s “Best open-field tackler” free safety Zach Hoffpauir being ruled out for tonight’s game, Stanford might also be missing defensive lineman David Parry. With injuries up front and missing Stanford’s best tackler Oregon will be looking to expose these weaknesses.
As good as the defense has been they are still allowing over 140 yards rushing and 240 yards passing per game without getting a 100+ rushing yard game from any of their players. Last year Tyler Gaffney ran the ball 45 times for 157 yards; Stanford doesn’t have a workhorse like that this year. Not only have they failed to produce a 100 yard rusher this season, they have failed to rush for over 200 yards as a team. The key last year was keeping the potent Ducks offense off the field by running the ball. If Stanford can’t do that tonight, they are going to be in for a show against a Ducks team determined to prove themselves to the College Football Playoff committee.
Top Photo by Craig Strobeck