Saturday, November 12, 2011

Good Luck Ducks, Week 11: That Tree

Some have suggested that this week's matchup between the #7 Oregon Ducks and the #4 Stanford Cardinal is the biggest conference game in Oregon's history. I'm not going to say it's not, but here are some other games that come to mind that had enormous significance: the 1994 Civil War (though as it turned out, Oregon would have gone to the Rose Bowl even if they lost), the 1998 Civil War, the 2000 Civil War, the 2009 Civil War... hmm, see a pattern here? I think I will just agree that this is one of Oregon's biggest conference games not involving Oregon State and leave it at that.

The details are well known, but Oregon has lost just one conference game since Chip Kelly took over as head coach, so there should be no reason to expect a Ducks loss here or at any other time. Unfortunately, that one loss was to today's opponent in the same venue. I never go into a game anymore fully expecting an Oregon loss, and I don't today. If I was a betting guy, though, I would begrudgingly put my money on Stanford.

That said, beyond just aggregate success, there are other reasons to be optimistic about the Ducks today. Stanford has piled up some significant injuries, while the Ducks are relatively healthy at their skill positions. Oregon knows Stanford and their gameplan well in the Andrew Luck era, and I don't think anything the Cardinal does will be a surprise. And USC certainly exposed Stanford's defense. If Oregon can consistently score touchdowns on their drives, there isn't another team in the country that can stop them. As usual, Oregon's worst opponent tends to be themselves. To win, they need to avoid the mistakes that plagued them in the LSU game and just run the offense with a zero tolerance for missteps.

Above footage from the 2010 Stanford/Oregon game, where the Ducks stormed back from a large early deficit to blow out the Cardinal.

Game time is 5:00 PST with national coverage on ABC. I can't wait!

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