Weekend Wrap: Stanford stuffs the Ducks

Updated: November 8, 2009, 4:08 PM ET
By Bruce Feldman

The toughest thing for people to wrap their minds around when it comes to college football, I think, is that every week stands alone.

By nature, we all love to search for trends and evidence about how teams are on rolls and have things figured out: "Well, since Team A beat Team B, and Team B blew out Team C, then Team A will hammer Team C." We want to believe that there is carryover. The subjective rankings system that drives college football only sucks us in to that mindset even more.

However, the reality is that the college game is so tricky to read because of the huge emotional swings that can overcome the 19- and 20-year-olds who play it, and because of the variety of schemes and assignments that these people are called on to execute. So we get, essentially, chaos. And, that is one of the things that makes for the best regular season of any sport.

The best example of this occurred Saturday at Stanford. Oregon comes in riding the biggest win in the Ducks' history, having just pulled off the most impressive win in a Pac-10 game in a decade. They had just demolished USC in a way no one had ever done in the Pete Carroll era. Trouble is, from the start of the fourth quarter of that game on Halloween night until probably a few minutes after kickoff against the Cardinal yesterday all the talk was about how Chip Kelly's team was the hottest team in the country, about how much they'd improved from the start of the season when they were dominated by Boise State. Then this week they get to play a Stanford program they'd beaten seven straight times, by an average of 23 points a game. (I say a Stanford "program" and not a Stanford team because every program's team each season is different. And this Stanford team, under Jim Harbaugh, is very different from teams in Stanford's past.) Still, on top of all that, the Cardinal would have to cope with the frantic speed of the Ducks' offense without arguably their best defender, linebacker Clinton Snyder, who injured his knee during practice earlier in the week. The whole thing sounded ominous, right?