Henry Anderson terrorized Mariota last year
This is the type of game that makes the imagination run wild. We run through some of the countless possibilities that the electric Stanford-Oregon match-up brings up the table, and we finish with some vital injury news that gives the Cardinal a boost heading in.
The Stanford-Oregon rivalry has offered up a full range of
possibilities over the course of the past four years. It's shown
close games, comeback victories, wire-to-wire leads, high-scoring
games, and even a low-scoring affair. Considering the potential
outcomes makes for some sweet brain candy. Some are obviously more
likely than others, but it's a good time to let the imagination
wander and take a look at some of the possibilities that have
certainly been buzzing through fans' heads.
Worst Nightmare Realized
Projected Final Score: Oregon 45,
Ben Gardner's season-ending injury, coupled with Marcus
Mariota's improvement, is enough to make Stanford's defense look
ordinary against Oregon again. The Ducks sputter for a possession or
two, but then resemble the Utah juggernaut that tormented Stanford
in the second quarter the rest of the way. With a dizzying mix of
run, pass, and trickery leading the way, De'Anthony Thomas' 40-point
prediction easily comes true. Meanwhile, the Stanford offense again
forgets its power running identity. Kevin Hogan never finds rhythm
out of the confused shotgun approach, and the Ducks' excellent
secondary preys on this uncertainty to feed its offensive monster
with three-and-out after three-and-out.
Return of 2011
Projected Final Score: Oregon 48,
Oregon's most recent visit to Stanford Stadium
certainly doesn't elicit many pleasant memories from Cardinal fans,
so this second possible scenario may also cause them to wake up in a
cold sweat tonight. In the Ducks' 53-30 win over Andrew Luck and Co.
in 2011, Stanford actually played airtight defense in the first
quarter. They were shaky offensively, though, and a costly
interception gave Oregon an early lead that they would never
relinquish. The Cardinal defensive wall, not nearly as strong as it
would become in 2012, eventually ruptured under the pressure created
by its unsteady offense. Though a repeat of this is unlikely, the
possibility of a similar version of events has to at least instill
some fear in Stanford fans: The Farm Boys' offense was shaky
throughout most of October, and the defense is wounded up front.
Ghosts of 2009: A Two-Sided Shootout
Projected Final Score 1: Oregon 48,
Thursday's game comes
exactly four years to the day after Stanford's last home victory
over Oregon, a thrilling 51-42 triumph that earned bowl eligibility
in 2009. The Cardinal's defense was still in shambles that year:
Owen Marecic was making his first career start at linebacker a week
after Clinton Snyder's career-ending knee injury. By the end of the
day, though, the Ducks were shredding the winded Farm Boys to the
tune of 570 yards of total offense. Stanford's chances in this game
would ride entirely on the shoulders of Toby Gerhart and Andrew
Luck. No. 12 was excellent (12.6 yards per attempt); No. 7 was
transcendent (38 carries, 223 yards). The Cardinal just kept on
scoring, and they ultimately prevailed.
The quality of both defenses makes it unlikely that such a contest
manifests itself again, but keep the possibility of a shootout on
the backburner: Stanford's offense may be inconsistent, but it has
shown explosive ability so far this year. Still, a shootout
undeniably favors Oregon.
A Repeat of 2012
Projected Final Score: Stanford
20, Oregon 17
Stanford and Oregon were locked in a true
stalemate at Autzen Stadium last year, one that felt like it
would last forever if kickers weren't involved to break it.
Maybe that defensive struggle carries over into this year's
contest. The Cardinal are certainly formidable on that side of
the ball yet again, while Oregon is leading the Pac-12 in key
defensive categories. Mariota has improved, but if this is the
style of game that unfolded last year, the possibility of a
repeat must at least be entertained.
Floating on Clouds: Stanford's Dream Scenario
Projected Final Score: Stanford
34, Oregon 17
Gardner becomes the defense's Conor McFadden on the sideline,
and the two beautiful football minds help orchestrate an epic
Stanford performance on both sides of the ball. Josh Mauro and
Henry Anderson decimate Oregon's offensive line, while Shayne Skov and A.J. Tarpley destroy any Ducks who escape beyond that
initial wall. Trent Murphy establishes himself as the most
dominant player on the field after violently sacking Mariota
early and forcing a fumble. David Parry scoops it up and rumbles
18 yards to the house. Stanford's fast, hard-hitting secondary
again sets nearly impenetrable edges and neutralizes Oregon's
downfield passing game.
On the other side of the ball, Tyler Gaffney carries exactly 38
times, an homage to Gerhart's monster day exactly four years
earlier. Hogan is fantastic out of the playaction as a result,
throwing for scores to Ryan Hewitt and Devon Cajuste before
running for one of his own.
In all likelihood, the 2013 edition of this rivalry will
forge a new path of its own. Since their defensive line isn't
quite as deep as it was last year, it's hard to see the Farm
Boys repeating 2012's otherwordly effort. It certainly is
reasonable to expect another very strong Cardinal defensive
performance, though. Combine that with a strong, run-oriented
approach from the Stanford offense against Oregon's weakened
linebacker corps, and it's apparent that a close game in the
twenties is very possible.
News From Practice: Assorted Nuggets
- It appears certain that defensive end Henry Anderson and
wide receiver Devon Cajuste will both play. Derek Mason expects
Anderson to see 40-50 snaps of action, while David Shaw said
that Cajuste looked "quick" and "explosive" at practice on
Tuesday. He's expected to wear a knee brace while working
against the Ducks' secondary, which is statistically performing
at the top of the Pac-12.
- Shaw expects kicker Jordan Williamson (leg muscle strain) to
handle field goals but not kick-off duties.
- It's clear that Stanford's team is aware of De'Anthony Thomas'
comment coming from the Oregon camp, which stated the Ducks
should "score at least 40" points against the Cardinal's
defense. Anderson smiled and simply said the Stanford team has
discussed Thomas' words, while defensive coordinator Derek Mason
also brushed them off. "I'm not a prognosticator," he said. "I'm
not into points. I'm into wins."
- Mason also discussed the Stanford defensive formula against
the Ducks. "Sharks take their prey to deep water," he said.
"That's exactly what we plan on doing."
David Lombardi is the Stanford
Insider for The Bootleg. Check him out at www.davidlombardisports.com
and follow him on Twitter @DavidMLombardi.
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