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Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Stanford's advantage over Oregon

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Any sabermetric cats out there? Do you VORP?

Well, "Football Outsiders" is the football equivalent of "Baseball Prospectus," and it believes "Stanford's efficiency on value drives will be the difference against Oregon."

The key measure: Points per value drive (PPVD).

The stat measures a team's ability to finish what it starts and is defined as drives started on its own side of the field that reach at least the opponent's 30-yard line. Only two teams this season rank among the top 10 in offensive and defensive PPVD. They rank first and second in net PPVD as a result. Those teams, the Stanford Cardinal and Oregon Ducks, face off in Palo Alto, Calif., this weekend.


First, this was a number that Oregon ruled in its 52-31 win over Stanford:

The last time Stanford and Oregon clashed, the Ducks turned a halftime deficit into a route because of value-drive success. Oregon was a perfect 6-for-6 on value drives last season against Stanford, drives that accounted for 38 of its 52 points (five TDs, one FG). The Cardinal's offense couldn't keep pace, turning the ball over on downs, throwing an interception on second-half value-drive opportunities and netting only 24 points on six value drives for the game.


What does Stanford's defense need to do then?

It will be critical for Stanford's defense to force the Ducks into methodical drives. Oregon makes a living on explosive production -- the Ducks average 7.4 yards per play and 28.6 percent of their drives average at least 10 yards per play (third-most in both categories). When they combine explosiveness and value-drive opportunities, they get to the end zone. The Ducks have scored touchdowns on 21 of 22 explosive value drives (at least 10 yards per play) this year.


What about the Oregon defense?

Unfortunately for Oregon, the Ducks are susceptible to methodical drives. Of all drives against Oregon this season, 14 percent have lasted at least 10 plays, and 27 of the 31 value drives against the Ducks have been non-explosive. That said, Oregon has been opportunistic on defense where it matters most. The Ducks have recorded four interceptions on opponent value drives, all in situations in which the game margin was 14 points or less.


And the conclusion that gives Stanford the edge?

Stanford has the home field and an advantage in the kicking game and is slightly more efficient in generating and scoring on value drives offensively and limiting opponent value drives defensively. It will likely be a tight contest deep into the fourth quarter, but the edge in value drives will lead the way to a Stanford victory.


Much more numbers and notes in the article. Interesting stuff on both teams.