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Stanford vs. Oregon Pre-Game Analysis

Previewing this weekend’s matchup between the Stanford Cardinal and the Oregon Ducks.

NCAA Football: Oregon at Stanford Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Week 11 Weekend Matchup: Stanford Cardinal vs. Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium

When: November 12, 2016 at 1 P.M. PT

Vegas Over/Under: Stanford -3.5

After another disappointing loss last week against USC, the Oregon Ducks face a run heavy Stanford team this weekend, led by Christian McCaffrey, and are now challenged with winning all of the remaining games of the season, if they want any chance at playing in a bowl game in late December.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals are coming off a close win against Oregon State by the score of 26-15. Even though Stanford holds a surprising 6-3 overall record (4-3 in conference play and third in Pac-12 North Standings), they are nowhere near the caliber that they were last year (winning the Pac-12 North and Pac-12 Conference Championship).

Overall, the Ducks and Cardinals have played each other 79 times, with Stanford dominating that matchup (winning 46 of the total games). It will be interesting to see how the 80th matchup plays out, considering that Mark Helfrich’s Oregon Ducks are 2-1 against David Shaw’s Stanford Cardinals.

So what does each team need to do in order to capture a crucial victory on Saturday?

FOR OREGON: It is no secret that the Oregon’s biggest problem this season is defense (who are among the worst in college football). On Saturday, the Ducks’ defense will face another tough task of taking on a run-heavy offense from Stanford. However, if there is one fact that is known about the Cardinal is; if you stop McCaffrey, you stop Stanford from winning the game.

In addition, the Ducks’ defense has not produced a turnover since the Arizona State game (October 29 to be exact). Defensive leaders Ugo Amadi, Brenden Schooler, and Troy Dye have to find a way motivate the other defensive players to step up and play like their spot is on the line. Coming into Saturday, the Oregon defense should have a goal of limiting Stanford to under 40 points and 500 yards.

If Oregon has any shot of winning on Saturday, the defense must be more disciplined on making tackles, forcing turnovers and punts, and limiting penalty yardage.

On offense, the one highlight of this rebuilding year has been Duck’s freshman quarterback Justin Herbert. And on Saturday, the Oregon offense will once again look to impress under the direction of young Herbert.

In four games, Herbert has completed 95-154 passes, throwing 1158 yards, 13 touchdowns, and two interceptions. In addition, Herbert has scrambled away from pressure 54 times, running for 75 yards, and one touchdown.

After a tough outing last weekend against USC, the Oregon running game looks to make a statement against Stanford. Expect numerous carries from Royce Freeman, Tony Brooks-James, Taj Griffin, and Kani Benoit, while putting up big numbers.

To balance out the running game, much of Oregon’s offensive production has come through the talented receiving core. This season, playmakers such as Darren Carrington, Charles Nelson, Jalen Brown, and Pharaoh Brown have proven to be key. The Ducks must continue to leverage these talented receivers, who are more than capable of making big offensive plays.

FOR STANFORD: Although Stanford did win the Pac-12 North Standings and the Conference Championship last season; things have changed for this young Cardinal team. However, Stanford comes into Saturday’s matchup to prove that they can back on track in the Pac-12 North Standings, while continuing a winning season.

Interestingly enough, Stanford is coming into this weekend’s matchup with a quarterback problem, after Cardinals starting quarterback Ryan Burns has struggled to make completions and put points on the board. So far this season, Burns has completed only 95-152 passes for 1,058 yards, scored five touchdowns, and has had seven interceptions.

If Burns is sidelined come Saturday, the Cardinals will start backup quarterback Keller Chryst, who started against Oregon State last weekend and completed 31 of 65 passes for 227 yards, two touchdowns, but had two interceptions.

Either way, expect Stanford’s offense to rely more on their running game. Although no longer on Heisman Trophy watch, Christian McCaffrey is still a force to be reckon’ with, who has 175 carries for 980 yards and scored six touchdowns. Behind McCaffrey, Bryce Love has also been impressive (racking up 68 carries for 428 yards and a touchdown).

Although the running game is the primary focus for the Stanford Cardinal team, they do have an impressive receiving core. Look for Stanford to give the ball to top receivers Trenton Irwin, Michael Rector, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, and Dalton Schultz (who have combined for 83 receptions, 913 yards, and scored five touchdowns). Also, don’t be surprised if Stanford uses McCaffrey as a receiver at times (who has 26 receptions for 213 yards, and has scored two touchdowns).

Bottom line, if Oregon can improve their fundamentals on defense and force more turnovers, come out fast and maintain an early lead, and play off their home atmosphere; the Cardinal will have their hands full. Let’s hope the Ducks can pull this game out and come away with an upset and a much-needed victory.

Prediction: Although Oregon has struggled with slow starts, poor defense, and a lack of discipline; the Ducks will rise to the occasion and come away with a win by a score of 45-38.

Wrap Up Notes: The Oregon Ducks will host prospective visits from some of the nations’ top offensive weapons including; Oregon commit four-star cornerback Jaylon Redd, four-star cornerback Thomas Graham, three-star running back Cyrus Habibi-Likio, three-star wide receiver Bryan Thompson, and five-star transfer quartback (former Alabama commit/player) Blake Barnett.