Stanford had a shot at the BCS title last season but the Cardinal fell short in Eugene. Now it’s time for the Ducks to head to Stanford Stadium, in another game with big time BCS implications. Al Dannity breaks down the Pac-12’s riposte to last week’s ‘Game of the Century’ in the SEC.
The trenches will be crucial When College Football betting fans think of the Pac-12, the image of high-flying passing offenses and inept secondaries abound. Get ready for a reality check this Saturday night. On one sideline you have the Stanford Cardinal, a team with a power running game that rumbled for 446 yards against the Washington Huskies. Those same Huskies hosted Oregon last week and saw star running back Chris Polk, averaging 127 yards per game on the ground coming into the match-up, held to just 80 yards on 24 carries.
The stars will feature, make no mistake, but no contest will matter more than the Ducks’ run defense against Stanford’s blockers. If the offensive line holds for the Cardinal, there will be little the Ducks can do to stop the platoon of backs at Stanford’s disposal.
Time for your Heisman moment It would take something calamitous for Andrew Luck to drop from #1 overall pick in the NFL draft next spring. Dropping from #1 in the Heisman race would only require a slightly off day against the Ducks. Heisman winners don’t do just about enough in the big games. They shine brightest in them. This is the Cardinal’s best opportunity to make a case for a trip to the BCS Championship Game. Much like the Heisman, voters will be swayed by stylish displays on big days. For Andrew Luck that makes this game doubly important. It offers him the chance to catapult Stanford into the biggest game in the school’s history and, in the process, lock up the Heisman Trophy for 2011.
The verdict Anyone who checks out our Power Rankings will know one thing about the Stanford Cardinal; they always cover. As the only team that is perfect against the spread in 2011, the 9-0 Cardinal have proven that when they win they win big. That’s important to bear in mind against the Ducks. While Stanford likely won’t shut down Darron Thomas and LaMichael James in the style of LSU, the Cardinal defense should be able to significantly limit the dynamic duo’s production. Luck, who must work with a wounded receiving corps, will have to show his mettle but we know the quarterback can run when circumstances call for it. Look for the Stanford signal-caller to mix it up in the passing game while leaning on ground attack to sap the strength of Oregon’s defense. I like Stanford to go 10-0 this Saturday.