Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 9:00 PM
Late last week we outlined for sports bettors what we believed the five keys were for the Stanford Cardinal if they wanted to spring an upset as a 20-point underdog in Eugene against the Oregon Ducks. You watched the game. You saw that they largely followed the roadmap we had outlined in their 17-14 overtime shocker that rewrote the BCS championship script.
#1 Be Ready EARLY
Stanford’s defense in particular was aggressive early, blitzing on third and fourth down in a way that complete disrupted the Oregon attack. The offense wasn’t explosive, but did a good job of running clock before having to give the ball up. The game was scoreless after the first quarter. Stanford scored first for a 7-0 lead, and just missed converting a fourth down that would have extended their first half lead. Stanford wasn’t just ready early. They were the better team early!
#2 Own the Point of Attack
Own is probably too strong a word. They did a very good job at the point of attack, and were much more consistent on both sides of the ball. They did allow a very long run to Oregon that equalized the volume stats. In terms of moving in chunks and controlling the flow…Stanford did exactly what it had to do. They certainly did a much better job than you normally see from a 20-point underdog.
#3 Own Time of Possession
Stanford grabbed this stat by the throat and wouldn’t let up. The final totals were 37 minutes for the Cardinal, and 23 minutes for Oregon. That kept the Ducks from getting any rhythm, because they were always coming onto the field rusty. That wore down the Oregon defense too…which ultimately was the difference-maker as Stanford drove for a late game-tying touchdown before winning in overtime.
#4 Win Third Downs
Let’s make it check, check, check, check! Stanford converted 35% of its third downs, compared to 24% for Oregon. If you throw in fourth downs, the advantage moves to 37% to 21%. It’s not like the Cardinals were converting half of their big plays. But, they were holding Oregon below a quarter. They won this stat in decisive fashion.
#5 Win Turnovers
Well, you can’t win them all. Stanford managed to pull off this big upset despite losing the turnover category 3-1. How did they do it? Well, missed field goals aren’t technically turnovers. But, Oregon had two of those. And, failed fourth downs aren’t technically turnovers even though the other team gets the ball if you fail. If you add up turnovers + missed field goals + failed fourth downs, Stanford and Oregon both had five.
With #2 Oregon and #1 Kansas State both losing, BCS Chaos once again wreaked havoc on late season expectations. Undefeated Notre Dame has taken over the #1 spot in the BCS despite having to go overtime at home to beat Purdue, Pittsburgh, BYU, and Stanford (no shame in the Stanford result). Alabama is back up to #2…with the winner of the SEC Championship game matching current #2 Alabama and #3 Georgia likely to play in the BCS title tilt. Of course, there’s still time for Notre Dame to lose to USC, Georgia to lose to Georgia Tech, and Alabama to lose to Georgia (we can’t imagine Alabama losing to hapless Auburn). BCS Chaos may not be done yet!
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