Final Thoughts: Fear The Cardinal?
Stanford QB Kevin Hogan
Stanford QB Kevin Hogan
Posted Nov 16, 2012

Final Thoughts: Can a physical Stanford team be the one to take down Oregon?

Final Thoughts 

Before The Week 12 Games

- 2012 Fearless Predictions

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- Uh oh. No TV and no beer make Homer go crazy …

- No decent non-Pac-12 matchups in a mid-November weekend brings out the wacky …

- I haven't 100% sold myself on this quite yet, so hold off on your creepy, "Your a (bleep)" e-mails. However, when and if I'm right, I'm going to deny ever going so weenie with my lack of conviction as I dance around the room like Nate Silver after they called Virginia. I'm working on a really big call …

- Kansas State will play Oregon.

- In the Fiesta Bowl.

- I sheepishly picked the Cardinal to beat Oregon in the Staff Picks because it makes Texas A&M-over-Alabama sense, but I'd hardly bet The Farm on it; the lack of defensive speed is too big an issue and I do realize that Oregon is at home. However, Gene, from my chair here, this is the last, best option for a massive upset of the Ducks, if there is going to be a massive upset.

What was totally and completely lost in Oregon's 59-17 win over Cal was how the banged up Duck D line was tattooed. If the Bears had anything at quarterback and defensive back, and if Marcus Mariota wasn't throwing darts, the last 21 minutes would've been as interesting as the first 39 and the entire season would've change. However, because no one of importance – (cough) the voters (cough) – actually watches Pac-12 games, all anyone noticed was the 59-17 final score.

Cal outgained Oregon on the ground 236 yards to 180, with Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas being bottled up - and there was the opening. For all of those who needed something to show that yes, once again, the Duck running game will not work against a top-shelf, elite-of-the-elite defense with a talented defensive front seven, that was it.

Now, finally, Oregon has to face two and possibly three teams that are more physical and far tougher than anything it has had to deal with over the first ten games.

Stanford leads the nation in sacks and tackles for loss, and the offense is great at getting nasty and physical. Oregon State doesn't have a ground attack, but the run defense is terrific, and all of a sudden, UCLA – if it beats USC this Saturday – is dangerous with a phenomenal pass rush and strong running game.

- Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know how the drill. I'm going to look like a genius for about three quarters as Oregon clings to a 28-24 lead, I'll go get a gordita, and four minutes later it'll be 137-24 Ducks.

- Don't get me wrong, purely as a fan, there's nothing cooler than watching the Duck floodgates open. The last third of that Cal game was jaw-dropping. If Oregon goes 13-0, I want to see this team play in my national championship.

- Oregon isn't going to go 13-0.

- And if it goes 13-0, it's not going to go 14-0.

- Unless it plays Kansas State.

- Or Notre Dame.

- As much as I might want and need to see an SEC champion play in the BCS championship – if this conference's national title streak is going down, I don't want it to happen because the league cannibalized itself - I'd rather see a BCS championship without any SEC teams than another SEC vs. SEC matchup.

- Tell me if any of this sounds even the slightest bit implausible. Kansas State loses to Texas. Oregon loses to Stanford or in the Pac-12 championship (it's not going to lose to Oregon State). Notre Dame loses to USC. Florida is coldly efficient and effective in a win over Florida State. The Alabama-Georgia winner finishes 12-1.

- And the collective groan from the college football world would be deafening.

- Reasons No. 495, 496 and 497 why top pro prospects shouldn't play one more down of college football than they absolutely have to: Michael Vick, Jay Cutler and Alex Smith. It's one thing to be established in The League and suffer a concussion, but if a player misses time in college with concussion issues, from this point forward, there's going to be a huge, giant, screaming red flag that's going to destroy his draft stock worse than a bum knee or a poor Wonderlic score.

- The Big 12 is a passing league. Texas Tech is No. 1 in the nation in passing, Baylor No. 2, Oklahoma State No. 4 and West Virginia No. 5. Seven of the ten teams are in the top 48, with Iowa State, Kansas State and Kansas the only teams lower, which is why Oklahoma deserves more love and credit for putting together a phenomenal defensive season ranking eighth in the nation in pass defense and second in pass efficiency defense. The Sooners have allowed three touchdown passes all year, with one coming against Florida A&M and two coming in the final five minutes of garbage time against Texas.

- However, OU has to play West Virginia this week and Oklahoma State next week.

- USC running back Silas Redd leads the team with 732 yards and nine touchdowns, but he missed last week's game against Arizona State. Penn State running back Zach Zwinak leads the team with 686 yards and four touchdowns, but he only carried the ball three times in the first three games.

- Turnover margin, turnover margin, turnover margin. Out of the top 50 teams in the nation in turnover margin, only five have a losing record. The top 11 teams in turnover margin are Kansas State, Kent State, Louisiana Tech, Boise State, Ohio, Fresno State, Rutgers, Alabama, Florida, LSU and Mississippi State, who are currently a combined 93-18. Oregon is tied for 12th and Notre Dame is tied for 22nd.

Meanwhile, only one team in the bottom 23 in turnover margin, Nebraska, has a winning record.

- Kansas is on a nine-game losing streak and has yet to beat an FBS team, but it has lost five games by a touchdown or less.

- Come on, Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma State. If you're going to be the only game outside of the Pac-12 with ranked teams playing each other, and with your passing offenses, I want to see what 1,000 yards of passing game looks like.

- Come on, Texas State vs. Navy. With your two rushing offenses, I want to see what 1,000 yards of ground game looks like.

- Even if Ohio State finishes on top of the Leaders' standings, if Wisconsin wins this weekend, I'll be comfortable with the Big Ten championship.

- It's not going to happen, but …

- In a miserable week for the SEC, with seven games against FCS teams, check in just to see what's happening in the Sam Houston State-Texas A&M tilt. The Bearkats lead the FCS in scoring and have allowed just 34 points in the last five games.

- The best game this week you won't watch: Utah State vs. Louisiana Tech. With little else of note going on this weekend, fire this one up on the computer and enjoy a wild shootout for the WAC title.

- The second best game this week you won't watch: UCF at Tulsa. The two will play for the Conference USA title in a few weeks.

- Even though you should, you won't watch in a few weeks when those two play, either.

- How sad is the history of Vanderbilt football? If it beats Tennessee and Wake Forest to close out the season, it'll be the first time since 1982 that the Commodores have won eight games. If they win out and finish 9-4, it will be the third nine-win season in the program's history, last hitting the mark in 1915. To get to nine victories, that team got by Rhodes 47-0, Cumberland 60-0 and Henderson State 100-0. Along the way was a 91-0 squeaker over Ole Miss and a 35-0 victory over Tennessee. The other nine-win season was in 1904, rolling through the slate unbeaten outscoring the opponents 474-4 with all four points given up to Missouri-Rolla.

- If you were my close, personal friend and you were going off to Vegas to legally "invest" what little money you might have left – and, by the way, I do have a close, personal friend in Vegas who I begged to no avail to take Ball State and the over, Northern Illinois and the under, which would've made him 3-for-4 to make up for going heavy on the Steelers and the over - I'd suggest taking a look-see at Virginia Tech -9.5 over Boston College, LSU -18.5 over Ole Miss, Kansas +6 over Iowa State, and my Five-Star, Master Lock Pick of the Millennium For This Week: Purdue -7 over Illinois.

- It's going to get better, fast. Next week we get TCU at Texas, Oregon at Oregon State, Stanford at UCLA, Miami at Duke (it's going to mean something), Georgia Tech at Georgia, Michigan at Ohio State, Auburn at Alabama (c'mon, you want to see the train wreck), Florida at Florida State, Oklahoma State at Oklahoma, Wisconsin at Penn State, Missouri at Texas A&M, South Carolina at Clemson, Louisiana Tech at San Jose State and, of course, Notre Dame at USC.