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College Hotline - Pac-12 football: Picks of the Week (breaking down Oregon vs. Stanford)

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Nov 12, 2015.

  1. RSSBot

    RSSBot News Junkie

    Jul 8, 2005
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    Before we get to the picks, let’s examine the game of the week, which used to be the game of the year in the Pac-12 and involves a wee bit of history, from a point-spread perspective:

    Oregon hasn’t been an underdog of this magnitude since the Ducks climbed onto the national stage more than half a decade ago.

    They opened as an 8.5-point dog and are now 10 for the Saturday afternoon showdown.

    Last time the number was that high for any Oregon game: against USC in ’08.

    I spoke to former Oregon defensive coordinator/current Pac12Nets analyst Nick Aliotti about Saturday’s affair at Stanford. Aliotti, who was spot-on with his assessment last year, likes Oregon’s chances this time around, as well, and offered two reasons for the sentiment:

    1. While much of the attention is on Oregon’s porous defense and its prospects for containing Stanford’s balanced, high-scoring attack, the outcome of the game typically hinges on the other matchup: Oregon’s offense against Stanford’s defense. The Ducks struggled in ’12 and ’13 (Stanford wins) and rolled last year (Oregon win). Aliotti thinks Oregon has enough playmakers to put up points.
    2. In his words: “The style (of offense) Stanford plays, although it can cause problems, plays in the Oregon defense’s favor because it doesn’t spread them out as much, if Stanford attacks with all the linemen and the 2-back sets … because of the methodical, grind-you-out offense, Oregon should not give up big plays.”

    I had considered No. 1, for sure, but No. 2 is an interesting view. Many of Oregon’s defensive breakdown have come in space. If bunched to counteract Stanford’s heavy sets, the Ducks might have more success. The holes are on the second and third levels — the front is quite good.

    The key, as I see it: Third down. (Okay, third down and turnovers.)

    If the Ducks limit Stanford’s percent conversions — something in the 35 to 40 percent range — we should have a tight finish.

    If the Ducks cannot get Stanford off the field, it could get lopsided in the second half.

    How have the teams fared thus far in league play?

    Stanford leads the Pac-12 in third-down conversions (52.2 percent) — quarterback Kevin Hogan has been masterful with decisions and execution.

    Meanwhile, Oregon is seventh in third-down defense, allowing conversions at a 44 percent clip (Stanford leads the league, by the way).

    To the picks …

    Last week: 2-4
    Season: 32-28-3
    Five-star special: 5-5

    All picks against the spread.
    Lines taken from vegasinsider.com (opening lines used)

    COLORADO (plus-14.5) at USC (Friday): Did the resurgent Trojans learn from their close call against Arizona? or from CU’s near-upset at UCLA? With Oregon next week, then UCLA, this would not be a trap game for USC so much as a T-R-A-P game. Pick: USC.

    WASHINGTON STATE (plus-8.5) at UCLA: Bruins in similar position to USC: At home as substantial favorite against perennial bottom-feeder and with big games upcoming (Utah, then USC). The difference: WSU is better than CU. Much better. Pick: Washington State.

    WASHINGTON (plus-3) at ARIZONA STATE: One team began the season with no expectations and on track to surpass them. The other began with high expectations and has underachieved. Gut says: Huskies steal one in the desert. Pick: Washington.

    OREGON STATE (plus-17.5) at CAL: The struggling Bears should not struggle at all with the worst team in the league, which is even worse without starting QB Seth Collins. Cal becomes bowl-eligible with an easy victory. Pick: Cal.

    UTAH (minus-4.5) at ARIZONA: Sure doesn’t seem like the Wildcats can match up with Utah on the lines of scrimmage. But this won’t follow script: The Utes are vulnerable after a tight win in Seattle and with UCLA looming next week. Feels like a RichRod surprise is in the works. Pick: Arizona.

    OREGON (plus-8.5) at STANFORD: See above, plus: Vernon Adams has proven adept at dazzling plays. Look for Stanford to force him to execute the basics from the pocket. How will he respond? Fairly close until the final minutes. Pick: Stanford.

    Straight-up winners: USC, UCLA, Washington, Cal, Arizona and Stanford.

    Five-star special: Arizona. In a season filled with surprises, this would not qualify for the top five.


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    by Jon Wilner

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