Here is how the Ducks matchup against No. 7 Stanford.
The classic Stanford power-run game is still alive, but it hasn’t dominated this year like it did last season. Heisman runner-up Bryce Love is in the backfield and accompanied by an experienced offensive line, but it just hasn’t gelled yet. Granted, some injuries have hurt Stanford’s O-line, and the effect of that will linger into the Oregon game. The Cardinal are only averaging 115.3 rushing yards per game. That number will probably rise to what we expect from Stanford, but so far, its offense has been bailed out by the passing game. K.J. Costello is the best quarterback Stanford has had in two years. His numbers don’t pop, but he’s been efficient. His favorite target is 6-foot-3 wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside, a senior who leads the Pac-12 in touchdown receptions. Along with other big tight ends, Stanford’s passing game is like its running game — it’s about bullying people.
By the numbers, Oregon’s defense is good. They’re fifth in the Pac-12 in yards allowed and first in rushing yards allowed. However, the points per game numbers aren’t as favorable. Oregon is allowing 20 points per game, which is eighth in the Pac-12. That number is a little concerning given the opponents the Ducks have played. Bowling Green, Portland State and San Jose State have offenses far inferior to the average Pac-12 team. Jim Leavitt’s defense has a history of making big jumps in year two, but there hasn’t been a true test yet. Oregon’s specialty so far has been getting sacks. Senior outside linebacker Justin Hollins has been Oregon’s best defender at reaching the quarterback, and he’ll need to add a sack or two to help slow the Stanford offense.
Stanford doesn’t have the advantage looking just at statistics, but they’ve played three better opponents than Oregon, and the Ducks’ defense has yet to be tested. It’s hard to know how they will fair the rest of the season. It’s also hard to go against Love.
Oregon’s offense sputtered at times last week against San Jose State, but overall they’ve been as dominant as advertised. The Ducks are back to leading the Pac-12 in points per game with 51.7, and quarterback Justin Herbert leads the conference in touchdown passes. The offensive line has kept Herbert mostly untouched so far. They’re a veteran group and arguably the best O-line in the Pac-12. Freshman Penei Sewell has flourished in the left tackle spot while Alabama grad-transfer Dallas Warmack mauls people at right guard. The Ducks’ offense projects to be one of the best in the conference, and if they continue to play like they have the past three week, then they’ll have a promising season.
Stanford’s defense has exceeded expectations while the offense has struggled. The Cardinal defense was average last season and they lost three key contributors to the NFL. But the senior-laden group has found a way to keep opponents off the scoreboard. Eight of the 11 starters are seniors and they’ve held San Diego State, USC and UC Davis to 7.7 points per game. Stanford’s pass defense has allowed the fewest touchdown receptions in the conference. Oregon has the most passing touchdowns, so we’ll see if the Ducks can break an experienced Stanford secondary.
Stanford’s defense has suffocated opposing offenses, but they haven’t played one as good as Oregon this season. Herbert will be the most talented quarterback they face this season, yet this could be one of the toughest defenses Oregon plays this year.
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