Saturday, November 17, 2012
After Oregon's season is over, it is still completely unclear whether anyone will look back and say that this was a successful season. At 10-0, number one in the polls with an apparently clear path to the national championship game, any number of things could go wrong at this point and Ducks fans' collective hearts will be sunk. A berth in the Rose Bowl would be extremely disappointing to a team that played for the title two years ago and won the Rose Bowl last year. It's tough to watch a sport where there is zero margin for error, but I am not going to complain when I could just as easily be a fan of any number of hundreds of college football teams that are nowhere near the position Oregon is in.
Basically, what I'm saying is that Oregon needs to win today and in decisive fashion. And then they need to go out and do it again next week. And, oh, by the way, there's one more game because the conference expanded and now has a championship game. Oregon takes on the bullishly strong Stanford Cardinal tonight on Senior Day at Autzen. Stanford comes in as likely the best team Oregon will face all season, until the bowl games anyway. Like Cal last week, Stanford recently made a quarterback switch. Kevin Hogan gets his second start after squeaking by Oregon State last week. The Beavers are likely to be hopping mad (or is that tail-slapping mad?) and will take it out on Cal tonight in the late game. Stanford presents some physical challenges for the Ducks as usual, and it will certainly be a contrast in styles on the field. I don't think most people gave Stanford much of a chance this year after Andrew Luck departed, but they have been terrific once again.
Oregon is very depleted on defense and at one point even considered moving some of their speedier offensive weapons to the secondary for this game. I haven't heard much noise about that since the beginning of the week, so I am assuming you won't see De'Anthony Thomas or Keenan Lowe on defense. However, you never know what Chip Kelly is up to. I think Oregon's all out offensive assault will overcome Stanford like it did the opponents before them, but there's always a chance that the offense won't click. There's been at least one game every season that the team sputtered on that side of the ball since Kelly started coaching the team. Let's just hope that they don't have that kind of game this year. A Ducks win sews up their spot in the conference championship game, where they will face the winner of the USC/UCLA bloodbath that's going on as I write this.
Stanford ran out of Luck (get it?!) during last year's battle between the two Top 10 teams.
Game time is 5:00 PST with national coverage on ABC. Go Ducks!