Welcome back to the road trip. We're taking a week-by-week look at the entire Pac-12 schedule and picking out the game we feel is the marquee matchup of the week. If you have the time and means, this is the game you want to see.
Saturday, Nov. 17
Arizona at Utah
Cal at Oregon State
Stanford at Oregon
USC at UCLA
Washington at Colorado
Washington State at Arizona State
My choice: Stanford at Oregon
Why: This will be the third week in a row that we're picking a game involving Oregon, but this is our first trip of the year to Autzen Stadium.
We're assuming that the Ducks escaped from Berkeley with a win last week, figured out Washington State's offense in late September and extended their streak over Washington back in October. Nine times? Nine times.
So this game represents the best chance for someone in the North to knock off the Ducks. (I'm not holding my breath for it to happen next week in the Civil War).
Last year's matchup in Palo Alto was billed as one of the biggest games in Stanford football history. Billings don't always live up to the hype. Stanford wilted under turnovers, missed tackles and they couldn't match the speed of Oregon.
Logic dictates that if Stanford couldn't get it done last year at home and with Andrew Luck, why could they possibly do it this year on the road with a first-year starter at quarterback. And that logic is perfectly sound. The biggest difference between Stanford last year and this year -- aside from the aforementioned Luck and the three other players who went in the first two rounds of the NFL draft -- is that the Cardinal have far less to lose. Last season, they were the ones who were undefeated, riding a 17-game winning streak and pursuing a trip to the national championship game. All of the pressure was on them, and the end result was a 53-30 whooping at home.
This year, that role is reversed. However, unlike last year's Stanford team, Oregon is used to the scrutiny and the weighty expectations of being a national contender. That's a role Stanford still hasn't fully embraced.
The Ducks will score on Stanford. Probably a lot. That's just a fact. While the Cardinal's defense should be better than last year, you have to question if Stanford is explosive enough on offense to go blow-for-blow with the Ducks. The Cardinal tried the drag-it-out, methodical approach last year and ended up punting four times and turning the ball over five times. There are no bonus points for winning time of possession.
Whoever is running Oregon's offense will be salty vet by this point in the season -- having faced tough defenses in USC and Cal on the road in the previous two games. De'Anthony Thomas can put an exclamation point on his Heisman campaign by going through/behind/or around a very talented Cardinal front seven and the Ducks can all but wrap up the division.
You can check out the rest of the road trip here.