Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Arguably the biggest matchup of the college football season is set for Thursday Night when BCS #2 Oregon visits BCS #5 Stanford in a game that will be televised nationally by Fox Sports1. Other national powers will have some challenges ahead. But, at the moment, it’s unlikely that we’ll see a game with a pair of top five teams going head-to-head until the conference championships or the bowls. And, it might ONLY happen in the eventual BCS Championship game itself!
Alabama hosting LSU is a big game this weekend. But, LSU is only #13 in the BCS rankings. Maybe Auburn or Missouri will be in the top five in games later this season against the Tide. That’s a pretty big maybe at the moment. If you love watching GREAT teams go HEAD-TO-HEAD, then absolutely, positively do not miss Oregon/Stanford.
Many pundits and handicappers were caught napping last year when these two teams met in Eugene. Oregon was seen as an unstoppable juggernaut. Stanford was seen as a smart team that didn’t have the horses to keep up. Smart kept up just fine thank you very much…as the Cardinal sprung a big upset on their way to the Pac 12 championship and a Rose Bowl win.
Will the Ducks get revenge…on THEIR way to a historic postseason? Or, has Stanford proven that they know the schematics and approach that will stifle the Quack Attack? Let’s review this season’s results before pondering the answer…
Oregon (-59) beat Nicholls State 66-3 (winning yardage 772-337)
Oregon (-22) won at Virginia 59-10 (winning yardage 557-298)
Oregon (-28) beat Tennessee 59-14 (winning yardage 687-316)
Oregon (-38) beat California 55-16 (winning yardage 381-325)
Oregon (-38) won at Colorado 57-16 (winning yardage 755-374)
Oregon (-14) beat Washington 45-24 (winning yardage 631-376)
Oregon (-38) beat Washington State 62-38 (losing yardage 719-559)
Oregon (-23) beat UCLA 42-14 (winning yardage 555-283)
It’s always tough to draw meaningful conclusions about how Oregon will play in big games based on their stats. They run up the score (and the numbers) vs. bad teams. Clearly this is a dynamo (unless playing in a monsoon, which we saw against Cal). The potential monkey wrench is the fact that Washington played them tough for a half even when the Huskies were exhausted the week after a war with Stanford. If Washington can do that tired…can Stanford play a tough 60 minutes when fresh?
Stanford (-24) beat San Jose State 34-13 (winning yardage 404-251)
Stanford (-30) won at Army 34-20 (winning yardage 408-333)
Stanford (-6) beat Arizona State 42-28 (losing yardage 391-417)
Stanford (-10) won at Washington State 55-17 (winning yardage 560-373)
Stanford (-9) beat Washington 31-28 (losing yardage 279-489)
Stanford (-9) lost at Utah 27-21 (losing yardage 389-410)
Stanford (-4) beat UCLA 24-10 (winning yardage 419-266)
Stanford (-4) won at Oregon State 24-12 (losing yardage 273-288)
The numbers just don’t compare…and that matters a lot right now because Washington, Washington State, and UCLA represent common opponents. Versus those three:
*Oregon is +83 on the scoreboard, +687 in yardage
*Stanford is +55 on the scoreboard, +130 in yardage
If wins were based on yardage, Stanford would be 4-4 this year. How’s THAT going to work against Oregon?
Well, it worked last year like this:
*Move the chains and run clock
*Get something out of your long drives
*Exploit Oregon’s rustiness when they do get on the field
*Hope for a couple of turnovers
*Contain Oregon’s big play potential and try to force field goals
It can be done. Can it be done twice in a row against the same team?
Current Vegas Line: Oregon by 11, total of 60
Vegas oddsmakers and sharps don’t think so. Oddsmakers opened higher than a TD with a line of Oregon -8.5 even though the game is in Palo Alto. Sharps bet that even higher to the key number of -10. The public has been coming in on Oregon as well (the public always lags the sharps when it comes to getting to the window), which has pushed the line even higher to Oregon -11.
We’ve seen countless matchups like this over the years in college and pro football. “High octane” runs into a “grinder.” If the “grinder: can hang tough early, it turns into great drama. If “high octane” puts up early points and makes the lesser light play catch up…it gets out of hand and ugly in short order. YOU have to decide if this is going to be another 42-24 type win for the Ducks…or a 24-21 slobberknocker that will be decided by a late miscue.
JIM HURLEY has been waiting for this game all year. He circled it on the calendar this past summer…and has been viewing every game each of these teams has played with an eye on nailing the winner in the biggest Pac 12 game this season. You can purchase the final word for Thursday (which also includes Oklahoma/Baylor and Vikings/Redskins) right here at the website with your credit card. If you’re reading this on Wednesday, be sure to build your bankroll in the MAC with Central Michigan/Ball State and some great NBA! To talk to a live person about full season options, call our handicapping office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal weekday business hours.
Back with you tomorrow to run the numbers in that Vikings/Redskins game in the NFL. We’ll dive into LSU/Alabama on Friday as the biggest sports weekend of the year continues.
Don’t you dare make a move in this week’s BLOCKBUSTER MATCHUPS until you hear WHAT JIM HURLEY HAS TO SAY!