By SPENCER McLAUGHLIN
Contributor, 750 The Game
The spread on last week’s game against the then-19th ranked Colorado was Oregon by 21 points. The Ducks dominated 42-6. This week against Stanford, on the road, the spread is in the 27-point range. I expect Oregon to coast to a win on The Farm. A repeat of 2021’s disappointing upset feels out of reach for the Cardinal who are in a rebuild against a motivated and talented Oregon team.
The Cardinal are allowing over 300 yards passing per game this year, the worst mark in the Pac-12. Oregon is averaging over 330 a game through the air led by QB Bo Nix, whose Heisman campaign is off to a good start.
The Cardinal have allowed a respectable 122 rushing yards per game through 4 contests this season. I expect that average to go up after Saturday. Oregon struggled running on the road against Texas Tech at just 113 yards on 3.6 yards per carry – but has thrived on the ground in every other matchup. Texas Tech has a much more formidable front seven than the Cardinal, who are yet to face a team with the running capabilities of the Ducks.
Oregon leads the league so far in rushing at 232 yards a game.
Whereas the Ducks feel like they’ve taken a step forward this year, the Cardinal seem to have gone in the opposite direction. The Ducks have 11 sacks in their 2 games against Power 5 opponents with an improved defensive front. Bo Nix has been magnificent all season long with a deep lineup of weapons on offense. The secondary looks faster and more adept in coverage–they’ll have an interesting matchup test with Stanford TE Benjamin Yurosek.
Nobody should judge Troy Taylor for what Stanford does this season. They opened with a win against Hawaii, but have since been dismantled by USC before losing to FCS Sacramento State, his old team (who’s top 10 at the FCS level for what it’s worth). They have an uncertain quarterback situation with Justin Lamson and Ashton Daniels going back and forth. They lost several starters from last year to the NFL Draft and the portal who they can not readily replace with transfers.
Coach Taylor should be given ample time as Jonathan Smith was at Oregon State. Smith went 2-10 in his first year in Corvallis. It’ll be a similarly long season for Troy Taylor and the Cardinal.
For Oregon, a message that Dan Lanning has preached many times should be on display for their mentality this week: The Ducks’ biggest opponent is Oregon. Lanning has his team ranked inside the top 10 and riding high after their big win over Colorado last week.
There are still things that need to be cleaned up.
Oregon is averaging around 75 penalty yards per game this year. It almost cost them against Texas Tech when they had 124 penalty yards, but they escaped with a win. Giving so many free or “hidden” yards to offenses like Washington or USC can easily end up costing them the game.
Last year, Oregon allowed one of the worst 3rd down percentages defensively with opponents converting just under 47% of the time. This year, they’re just a shade under 33%. That doesn’t need to be cleaned up or radically improved, I’ll be watching to see if it stays in that range. Against an overmatched Stanford offense that doesn’t have a bonafide starting quarterback, the numbers should be strong.
Oregon will be without RB Noah Whittington who was injured against Colorado. If the Ducks play the way they’re capable of, the starters shouldn’t need to play the whole game and can hopefully avoid any more injuries.
Prediction: Oregon 52, Stanford 17
Spencer McLaughlin is an Oregon Ducks football contributor to 750 The Game. He also hosts the “Locked On Oregon Ducks” and “Locked On Pac-12” podcasts and has work featured throughout the season here.