Marcus Mariota has had a stellar career playing for the Oregon Ducks. Most people believe he is heading to the 2015 NFL Draft, but Mariota still has work to do for the Ducks. Oregon prides itself on the promise to “Win The Day,” however, they haven’t been successful when it’s the day to face the Stanford Cardinal.
There’s only been a couple of times where the superstar quarterback has been overmatched. In both cases, it was when the Oregon Ducks faced the fury of the Stanford defense. For the most part, Oregon runs right through most defenses they face. Unfortunately, Oregon’s magical offense has not put a spell on the Cardinal defenders since 2011. Basically, Stanford has figured out the formula to slow down the Oregon up tempo attack. Coming into the game, Oregon is the No.5 team in the college football playoff ranking.
In the past two games, Stanford has held Oregon to 34 total points. Oregon averaged 49.6 points in 2012, and 45.5 in 2013. The Cardinal have frustrated and confused Mariota into mistakes. Once the Ducks haven’t scored quickly, the offensive rhythm has turned into a mess for multiple quarters. We’ll know early if the Ducks are in panic mode.
Stanford Cardinal vs Oregon Ducks
Here are Five Keys to an Oregon Victory
1. Strong and consistent running game: When Oregon is pummeling opponents, they are running the ball at an explosive rate. They only gained 62 rushing yards in a last year’s loss to Stanford. Oregon was down 26-0 before scoring 20 fourth quarter points, but they never imposed their will. The Ducks also only averaged 2.6 yards per carry in the game, on 24 carries. If they abandon the running game again, there will be a shocking loss for the third straight year. Stanford only gives up 90 yards per game on the ground.
2. Turnovers: Stanford forced four fumbles in the game last season. Every time Oregon showed signs of life, momentum would shift rather quickly. This Stanford team doesn’t have much of an offense, so punting the ball, and playing the field position game might be able to get the job done.
3. Marcus Mariota: Mariota is one of the front runners for the Heisman, and he needs to play like it from the opening kickoff. There’s a fine line between patience and settling for bad plays. Mariota needs to make plays early in the game. If there is a running lane, Mariota must be a dog a crush Stanford’s spirit without hesitation. Otherwise, this defense will smother Oregon if they don’t make decisive actions.
4. Oregon’s Defense: Will Oregon’s defense stand up to the challenge? Stanford hasn’t had the best running attack this season, but they are confident that they’ll be able to run the ball on the Ducks. Stanford only scores 25.8 points per game. There’s no way that they should put up those numbers against Oregon. In addition, they’ll need to force three and outs to get the ball back to Marcus Mariota and the offense.
5. Coaching: During the losses, Oregon has been out coached by David Shaw. If the coaches are confident in the offense, they’ll make the right plays. If Oregon is shutting down your running game and you’re in field goal range, take the points. There’s a difference between settling for field goals and taking the points. Some coaches seem to forget that notion. In the past, Oregon has left points off the board, and it’s come back to bite them.