The No. 3 Oregon Ducks (4-0) take their unbeaten record to the Bay Area for a Week 5 Pac-12 showdown with the Stanford Cardinal (2-2). Oregon more or less coasted past Arizona last week, 41-19, but failed to cover as 29.5-point road favorites. In fact, the only game the Ducks covered this season was their 35-28 upset victory over No. 11 Ohio State as 15-point road underdogs. Stanford got routed in its home opener by No. 20 UCLA in Week 4 as 3.5-point underdogs. The Cardinal connected on a pair of 50-yard-plus touchdowns but only had 67 rushing yards and 22:25 of possession.
- Opening Line: Oregon -7
- Current Line: Oregon -8
- Over/Under (O/U): 57.5
- Location: Stanford Stadium
- Start Time: Saturday, October 2, 2021, 3:30 p.m. ET
- Last Meeting: Oregon beat Stanford 35-14 as 11.5-point home favorites on Nov. 7, 2020
Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal’s first full year on the job was in 2018. Since then, the Ducks are 6-4 against the spread (ATS) as a road favorite and 13-13 ATS in Pac-12 games. Over that span, the Cardinal is 12-11-3 ATS in conference play, 1-4 ATS as a home underdog, and 5-7 ATS vs. ranked competition. Also, the favorite has covered in five straight meetings, and the Over has cashed in 11 of the last 15. Oregon is 1-3 ATS this year, Stanford is 2-2 ATS, and both teams are 2-2 O/U.
The Ducks appear to be both a sharp and public play. For instance, according to Pregame.com, more than 80% of the cash and roughly 90% of the bets placed are on Oregon. This one-sided market action has steamed the Ducks up from a 7-point favorite to the current price.
On the other hand, the total market is seeing some “reverse line movement” in the Under’s direction. Around 95% of the money and 85% of the bets is on the Over but the total has been steamed down from a 58-point opener. Word for the wise: It’s a red flag whenever sportsbooks make the more popular side cheaper.
Oregon should dictate the pace of this game with its massive advantage in the ground game. For instance, the Ducks are 21st in yards per rush, while the Cardinal’s defense is allowing the 110th-ranked yards per rush. Even worse, Stanford’s defensive line has the seventh-worst non-garbage time line yards per play and the worst non-garbage time havoc rate in its front seven. The Ducks were able to push around a much more talented Ohio State defense for 7.1 yards per rush earlier this season.
Plus, Stanford’s offense is too reliant on the big play and doesn’t sustain drives. Stanford’s offense ranks 78th in third-down conversion rate and 93rd in non-garbage time success rate. In addition, Oregon is only allowing 3.6 yards per rush, and three of Stanford’s running backs are listed on the injury report. This, ultimately, is the difference-maker in this game. The Cardinals averaged 6.1 yards per rush in both of their wins. If Stanford abandons its ground game early, I really like Oregon’s chances of winning by margin. Stanford QB Tanner McKee looks like the real deal thus far. But Oregon’s ball-hawking secondary has already picked off nine passes this season.
While I’m hesitant to lay points with the Ducks, they have a winning ATS record as a road favorite in the Cristobal era, and Stanford is a terrible bet as a home underdog in recent seasons. And there’s no question Oregon has the better roster. The Ducks rank ninth in return of production heading into this year, and the Cardinal ranks 111th.
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