Marcus Mariota, quarterback of Oregon, currently ranked fourth in our College Football Power Rankings, is looking to win his first career game over Stanford this Saturday. If the projection holds, the most valuable player on any Power 5 conference team should get that win in emphatic fashion, likely similar to the Ducks victory over defensively-oriented Michigan State earlier this season.
Oregon is currently 7-1 straight-up and 4-3 against-the-spread this season. The Ducks have faced the 34th ranked schedule in FBS. Mariota leads an offense that ranks first overall in our strength-of-schedule-adjusted efficiency metrics. Oregon actually ranks tops in passing efficiency and third best in the nation (out of 128 teams) in run efficiency. The average Ducks' game score is 45.5-25.9 for a margin of victory of almost three touchdowns.
As a freshman in 2012, Mariota lost to Stanford at home in overtime, 17-14. Last season, Oregon lost 26-20 at Stanford. This is a different Oregon offensive attack that seems capable of overcoming its issues with physically dominant teams with balance and depth. Earlier in the season, Oregon won by 19 points at home over a team like Stanford in Michigan State (MSU beat Stanford 24-20 in last season's Rose Bowl and then returned more starters this season than Stanford). In the game against MSU in Week 2, Oregon wore down the Spartans, scoring the game's final 21 points. Oregon averaged 11.4 yards-per-pass and 4.3 yards-per-rush in that contest (against a defense we currently rank seventh overall).
Stanford is 5-3 straight-up and just 2-4 against-the-spread while taking on the 33rd ranked FBS schedule in 2014. The Cardinal ranks just 91st in the nation in scoring at just 25.9 points a game, while allowing 12.5 points a game for a two touchdown margin against a similar schedule to Oregon. Stanford currently ranks 22nd overall in our College Football Power Rankings and has a top 15 run and pass defense (third best defense overall). The Cardinal has just the 63rd ranked efficiency offense, however, suggesting they will struggle to keep up with Oregon once the big scoring plays inevitably happen for the Ducks.
Interestingly, 55+ points have been scored in each of Oregon's game while no Stanford outcome has topped 52 combined points. With the total at 54.5 as the consensus, our strong lean on the OVER is further indication that this game should ultimately favor Oregon's tempo (the last two games between these teams have been low scoring and close, but the game previous to that was won by Oregon 53-30; also, these teams scored 97 combined points last week).
According to 50,000 games played by the Predictalator at PredictionMachine.com, Oregon wins over Stanford 64% of the time and by an average score of 38-25. As 7.5 point favorites, the Ducks cover the spread 56.3% of the time, which would justify a $41 play from a normal $50 better. The total goes OVER 54.5 58.1% of the time, which warrants a wager of $60 from a normal $50 player. There are two stronger totals and 11 stronger against-the-spread plays according to our Week 10 analysis.