2011 College Football Big Game Preview: Oregon vs. Stanford
The last time we checked in on our countdown we previewed a clash of SEC powers and then we went to Big 12 country where we discussed a game that we expect to be a shootout. Our countdown now takes us to November 12th and our first game on the left coast.
Two teams really stepped to the head of the pack in the Pac-10 last year and combined to go 17-0 in the conference against everybody else. Those two teams were Oregon and Stanford and I expect the new Pac-12 to go about the same this year with those two teams being the teams to beat. For the 12th game in our "15 Games That Will Decide The National Champion" series, we head out to Stanford Stadium where the Pac-12 favorite will take on last years runner-up.
Oregon Ducks at Stanford Cardinal
When: November 12th
Where: Stanford Stadium in Stanford, California
These two teams met in October of last year so it was a little less climatic as it has the potential to be this year. That being said it was still a big match-up as two Top 10 ranked teams squared off in Eugene. When they met in 2010, Oregon was a 4-0 team who had wins over Tennessee and Arizona State and was ranked #4 and Stanford was ranked #9 as they had dispatched UCLA and Notre Dame. This year when they meet the majority of their Pac-12 schedule will be behind them and since both teams are slotted into the North Division this will be for all the marbles in the Pac-12 North.
One of the storylines in this game will be between the best two offensive players in the Pac-12, and possibly the nation, as Heisman Candidates Andrew Luck and LaMichael James square off. Last year, Luck was the 3rd rated passer in the FBS (behind Boise State's Kellen Moore and some dude named Cam Newton) and was likely to be the #1 pick in the NFL draft but made the decision to return to school. LaMichael James led the Pac-12 and the Nation in rushing as he ran for over 1700 yards and added 21 TDs (and that was with missing the first game of the year against New Mexico). Will these players be the same dominant players they were last year, will they regress or will they improve? That might have a lot to say about who wins this game.
Another player to watch is Oregon's Darron Thomas. Last year, Stanford got out to a quick lead on Oregon 21-3 and Thomas put in a big performance in Oregon's come from behind victory. He passed for 2 TDs in the second quarter and then ran for another in the 3rd and passed for one more in the 4th. Thomas was just a Sophomore with little experience last year. This year he is a junior and looks poised to lead the Ducks back to the Pac-12 Championship and possibly another shot at the National Title.
The team that is the most likely to stand in the way of the Ducks on their quest to challenge for a National Championship is the Cardinal of Stanford. Andrew Luck staying in school was a huge get for the team but they did lose their Head Coach Jim Harbaugh and it remains to be seen but that could be the biggest loss of any team in the Pac-12 this year. David Shaw will step up from OC to Head Coach and he also has to break in several key members of his coaching staff. That being said, I really like the Stanford schedule. Their toughest road game before they play USC on Oct 29th is Arizona in week three. Oregon, on the other hand, starts out with an all-out bar brawl in Arlington against Crazy Les Miles and the Tigers of LSU. The last time Oregon played at Stanford the #8 Ducks fell to the Cardinal 52-41. This will be the game that decides the Pac-12 and if Oregon can get by LSU in week one this could very well be the game that decides one of the teams that will play for the National Title.
15 Games That Will Decide The National Champion:
Oregon at Stanford- Nov 12