2011 Prediction & Game Story
Week 11, Oregon at Stanford
Pac-12 Fearless Predictions &
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Nov. 12 Oregon 53 … at Stanford 30
CFN Analysis: This was Oregon showing off its speed and athleticism at the height of its powers. Everything worked, and it started with Darron Thomas completing 11-of-17 passes for 155 yards and three touchdowns to do just enough to balance out a ground game that hit home run after home run. … Thomas did a terrific job of getting the ball to his backs at just the right time and making all the right reads for LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner to fly through. … The defensive line blew past the Cardinal offensive front and hit Andrew Luck on a regular basis to screw up the passing game. Stanford was supposed to be more physical, but Oregon came up with the bigger hits. … The Ducks did it. This was the blowout win over the big team to get the national title talk rolling. First, a more athletic USC is up next.
Stanford didn’t have the gamebreakers. With Chris Owusu out, the Cardinal receiving corps didn’t have anyone who could separate from the Duck secondary. Andrew Luck had to hang on to the ball a half-click longer than he wanted to, and he had to force his passes. … Simply put, the linebackers couldn’t handle Oregon’s running back speed. … The five turnovers were made from a desperate team straining to make something happen. The O had to because the D didn’t have any answers. … All is not lost. If the Cardinal can beat Cal and Notre Dame, and do it impressively, a BCS game is still there for the taking. It might not be the BCS Championship, but that wasn’t on the table if LSU and Oklahoma State both finish unbeaten.
(AP) STANFORD, Calif. -- LaMichael James made one defender slip, then another. He cut back, sprinted through a seam and burst into the open field, taking large chunks of yards -- and grass -- all the way to the end zone.
No turf? No problem for the Quack Attack.
James ran for 146 yards and three touchdowns and No. 6 Oregon blew past third-ranked Stanford 53-30 on Saturday night, giving Andrew Luck's Heisman Trophy campaign a blemish and taking a giant step toward hosting the inaugural Pac-12 championship.
"We were slipping. They were slipping. I just ran fast," James said.
Too fast for Stanford -- again.
James ran for scores from 1, 4 and 58 yards and had Stanford (9-1, 7-1) defenders slipping all over a slick field. The Ducks (9-1, 7-0) ended the nation's best winning streak at 17 games -- which the Cardinal began after a loss in Eugene more than a year ago -- and can clinch the league's North Division crown over Stanford with a win in one of their final two games.
"It's pretty cool. They always look down on us and then we come out and just play our game," Oregon defensive end Terrell Turner said. "That's what we want to do. Play our game and just shock people."
The Ducks have no problems with Luck.
Luck threw for 271 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions and a fumble. Stanford had five total turnovers and lost its grip -- and footing -- for the first time all season.
Oregon's no-huddle, spread-option ended any hopes of Stanford's first national championship. Instead, the Ducks are suddenly back in the BCS title mix after rolling off their ninth straight victory -- and first against a top-five team on the road team -- since a season-opening loss against top-ranked LSU.
"It means nothing until the first week of December," Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. "We've lost one. We lose two we're not even in the discussion."
Darron Thomas threw for 155 yards and three touchdowns to anchor one big-play burst after another. He tossed scores of 59 yards to Josh Huff and 41 yards to De'Anthony Thomas to leave sold-out Stanford Stadium stunned and silent.
The Cardinal did little with the few mistakes Oregon made.
James muffed a punt that and gave Stanford a chance at the Oregon 34. The Ducks quickly stifled Stanford again, and Eric Whitaker missed a 48-yard field badly right.
When the Cardinal got the ball back, Isaac Remington smashed Luck and forced the quarterback to fumble. Oregon recovered and James followed with a 4-yard score on fourth-and-2 to give the Ducks a commanding 36-16 lead in the third quarter.
All the Luck in the world couldn't bring Stanford back.
The two offenses traded scores until Boseko Lokombo intercepted a pass by Luck and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown to give the Ducks a 53-30 lead. Luck dived for the tackle at the goal line and got planted in the grass.
Too late again.
"I knew it wasn't going to be a cake walk," said Luck, who turned down a chance to be the NFL's No. 1 pick last April in hopes of leading Stanford to a league championship and maybe even a national title. "I had no grand illusions of just showing up and things just falling for our team because we just show up on Saturdays. We still have football left. For that I'm grateful. Hopefully more games after the conference season is over. There's still goals out there for us to accomplish."
While a pair of the nation's highest-scoring offenses showed imperfections, Oregon pounced on the mistakes and ran away with points each time.
Dewitt Stuckey also intercepted a pass by Luck that setup the Ducks' first score, a 4-yard touchdown pass from Darron Thomas to Lavasier Tuinei that started an avalanche of Oregon offense.
James ran through the middle untouched for a 58-yard touchdown to extend Oregon's lead to 15-6 early in the second quarter. The Ducks threatened to pad their lead again until Delano Howell, with a cast around his right hand, punched the ball loose from Kenjon Barner and Stanford recovered.
Kelly gambled all night and his offense made him look good.
On fourth-and-7 from the Stanford 41, De'Anthony Thomas took a short pass and raced down the sideline for a 41-yard TD that pushed Oregon in front 22-9 late in the first half. With the Ducks again about to make the game a rout, Luck answered in impressive fashion.
He led an eight-play, 84-yard drive capped by a threaded 13-yard TD pass to Whalen for the second time. The crucial score with 24 seconds remaining in the half trimmed Oregon's lead to 22-16.
It was the first time Stanford trailed at the half since at Notre Dame in 2009, when the Cardinal were down 24-20. Stanford rallied for a 45-38 win in South Bend.
No comeback this time.
"When you play a team with that kind of speed and that kind of talent and is as well-coached as they are, if you turn the ball over, you can't win," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "It was going to take our best game. I don't think we gave them our best game and they took advantage of it."
Oregon (8-1) at Stanford (9-0) Nov. 12, 8:00, ABC
Here’s The Deal … Okay, so “Game of the Century” has already been taken, but this week’s showdown in Northern California has a chance to be almost as influential as LSU at Alabama … with a whole lot more points and big plays on offense.
How about just calling this the biggest game in
There are just a handful of remaining games that are going to shape the BCS and the National Championship Game landscape. This is one of them. The Pac-12 has its first chance of 2011 to own the spotlight as it stages a much-anticipated battle between its two best programs. No. 4 Stanford is unbeaten, and well within striking distance of a spot in the Jan. 9 title game at the Superdome. No. 7 Oregon is hoping to take one giant step closer to a third consecutive conference crown. With an enormous swath of the county watching, someone is going to seize control of the Pac-12 title chase Saturday night.
Stanford finally has a chance to secure some much-needed national respect. Yeah, everyone admires QB Andrew Luck, and 9-0 is 9-0, but outside of the West Coast, there’s a general feeling that the Cardinal has yet to be truly tested. Washington has proven to be overrated, and the USC of now is not quite vintage Troy. This visit from Oregon, the defending league champ and 2010 National Championship runner-up, is the type of opponent that can earn a program a little street cred. Dethrone the champs, and voters might finally start taking Stanford more seriously in the chase for New Orleans.
Oregon lost the opener to LSU, the nation’s undisputed top-ranked team … and hasn’t tasted defeat since. The Ducks have delivered eight straight wins, capped by an impressive showing on the road at Washington last Saturday night. Like a true champion, they’ve been building a head of steam all year, overcoming injuries at key positions, and adapting to changes on the fly.
Can Oregon get a rematch with the Tigers two months from now if it runs the table? Not likely, but stranger things have happened at the tail end of the regular season. For now, the Ducks have more immediate goals, like copping the conference’s North Division.
Why Oregon Might Win: The Quack Attack is getting geared up at a most opportune time in the season.
Chip Kelly’s quick-strike system now ranks fifth nationally in scoring and rushing, putting up no fewer than 34 points during the eight-game winning streak. Star RB LaMichael James is back at 100%, and QB Darron Thomas has had the time he needs to fully heal his gimpy knee. The Ducks will have their full complement of playmakers, including James’ backups, Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas, with which to exploit the Stanford defense. Now, while the Cardinal has posted impressive aggregate numbers, the unit had issues with the speed and talent of USC a few weeks back. The Oregon D, on the other hand, has begun to hit its stride. Very quietly, it ranks sixth in the country in sacks, notching a half-dozen last week, and is allowing just 20 points a game. Coordinator Nick Aliotti has done a tremendous job of retrofitting his crew around ends Dion Jordan and Terrell Turner, linebackers Josh Kaddu and Dewitt Stuckey and S John Boyett. The Ducks D is playing as well as it has all season.
Why Stanford Might Win: There’s Luck, but a whole lot more.
Luck is, by most accounts, the nation’s best all-around college football player of 2011. A coach in the huddle, he rarely makes mistakes, and always makes those around him better. He’s basically a pro, an unpaid NFL intern on the Farm. No. 12, however, is not carrying this team on his own. He’s well supported, especially up front with All-American candidates Jonathan Martin at tackle and David DeCastro at guard.
Not only does the Cardinal lead the nation in fewest sacks allowed, but the physical blockers have paved the way for RB Stepfan Taylor and the country’s 17th-ranked ground game; the epitome of balance and precision, Stanford norms 48 points and more than 500 yards a game. The D is essentially a mirror image of Oregon’s. There’s not a lot of star attractions, save for maybe LB Chase Thomas, but it plays as a cohesive unit, and rarely experiences breakdowns. It’s a disciplined crew of veterans that’s going to make the Ducks earn its yards and first downs.
What To Watch Out For: While Oregon is getting healthy, Stanford is getting out its trainer’s table.
The Cardinal could be without a handful of key players, whose absences are going to force backups to rise to the occasion. Two of Luck’s receivers, WR Chris Owusu and TE Zach Ertz, won’t play , which is going to put a little more pressure on true freshman WR Ty Montgomery and Mackey Award candidate TE Coby Fleener, respectively. Oh, and is this the week that the Stanford defense really misses LB Shayne Skov, who was lost to a season-ending injury last month? While the program remains talented at the second level, Skov brought a certain tenacity and degree of range that are instrumental in stringing out the fleet-footed Ducks runners.
How will Cardinal head coach David Shaw fare in the biggest game of his debut season as Jim Harbaugh’s successor? Shaw has done a terrific job so far, but this will be a cauldron of a different temperature. Plus, this week’s nemesis, Kelly, has coached in a bunch of high-stakes games over the past couple of seasons. Shaw has the advantage of being in charge of an experienced roster that’s virtually unflappable. The challenge for him and his assistants will come in the area of in-game adjustments, which Kelly has excelled at since making the move from New Hampshire to Eugene.
What Will Happen: This week’s can’t-miss matchup is going to live up to the hype, much the way last Saturday’s did.
There’s not a lot daylight between Stanford and Oregon, which will help guarantee an entertaining and high-scoring game that requires all 60 minutes before declaring a winner. In a jump ball of sorts, the Ducks will have the better hops, exiting the weekend as the prohibitive favorite to capture their third Pac-12 title in-a-row.
Not only has Oregon been here before, but it’s also surging, and poised to play its best game of 2011. The offense will have too much speed for the Cardinal, getting outside the tackles and into the secondary for backbreaking runs. The defense is liable to catch some people off guard with its quickness off the ball and penchant for swarm tackling. Luck will deliver a heroic effort befitting a Heisman favorite, but unlike the USC thriller, it won’t be enough this time as his Stanford team falls from the dwindling ranks of the unbeaten.
CFN Prediction: Oregon 38 … Stanford 31
Click For Latest Line From ATS: Stanford -3.5 O/U: 66
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