- The Stanford Cardinal face their first road test of the season against an Oregon team that will do everything it can to stop returning rusher Bryce Love.
Stanford at Oregon (+1.5)
Sat. 9/22, 8:00 p.m. ET
Three things you need to know before betting on Stanford-Oregon:
1. Stanford head coach David Shaw has had Oregon’s number in recent years. The Cardinal are 4-2 both straight up and against the spread in their past six meetings with the Ducks. That includes wins in the two most recent games, which the Cardinal have won by a total of 67 points. One thing to keep an eye on here is the fact that the Ducks are a miserable 0-7 ATS after allowing 100 rushing yards or fewer in their previous game over the past three seasons. (Oregon held San Jose State to 29 rushing yards on Saturday.) That means that Oregon might be placing too much importance on stopping the run, which is leaving it vulnerable to passes over the top. And against a Stanford team that likes to pound the rock, it’s hard to imagine the Ducks changing their game plan now.
2. Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert is a bona fide superstar, and he’ll likely hear his name called early in next year’s NFL draft. But there are some more immediate questions for the Ducks junior QB. Herbert threw two interceptions against a lousy San Jose State team last week, and the Stanford defense he'll face on Saturday night is a whole other animal. The Cardinal have allowed just 7.7 points per game on the season—the best mark in college football—and Stanford has already forced seven turnovers through three games. Oregon’s offense features plenty of wrinkles and quite a few playmakers, but this Cardinal D has the weapons to counteract them. Stanford will be aggressive getting after the quarterback, and its opportunistic secondary will take advantage of any lapses in Herbert's judgment.
3. Running back Bryce Love missed Stanford's 30-10 victory over UC Davis last week with a knee injury, but Shaw expects his star to be ready for the Oregon game. That is bad news for the Ducks. In last season’s 49-7 rout of Oregon, Love rushed 17 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Even if he isn't playing at 100% on Saturday, Love will still be able to find holes against an Oregon defense that gives up far too many big plays. In the unlikely event that Love struggles, the Cardinal have an improved passing game that will keep its offense from faltering. QB K.J. Costello has thrown seven touchdowns and only three picks on the year. He has great chemistry with senior receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside, who has hauled in 13 passes for 324 yards and five touchdowns this year. If Oregon sells out to stop the run, the two of them should connect quite a bit in this game.
Pick: Stanford -1.5
Confidence Level: Very High (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)