The Oregon Ducks are set to battle the Stanford Cardinal tonight, a unique Thursday night blockbuster carrying with it national title implications as well as Heisman Trophy implications. The matchup features two top five teams in a clash of styles and philosophies existing at polar opposite ends of the spectrum, with Oregon’s fast-break up-tempo attack opposing Stanford’s smashmouth “three yards and a cloud of dust” style of play. In many ways, such a contrast in tonight’s battle is reminiscent of a basketball game. The Ducks resemble a basketball team which loves to consistently apply full-court pressure and to utilize their athleticism to full capacity for all 94 feet on the floor; conversely the Cardinal resembles a team which seeks to employ a halfcourt “grind it out” type of game in which each and every possession offensively is greatly valued. Ramping up the intrigue in addition to the very evident contrast in styles is the element of revenge, as Oregon seeks to avenge Stanford’s win in Eugene last season to spoil the Ducks’ national title hopes.
Heading in to tonight’s West Coast showdown, fans and outside observers already have a decent understanding of what to expect from each team. Oregon can undoubtedly be expected to attempt to utilize its speed. The Ducks undeniably possess the advantage on the perimeter, and they will seek to distribute the ball to versatile explosive athlete De’Anthony Thomas in order to create major plays in space with the ball in his hands. Additionally Oregon will seek to run as many plays as humanly possible. On the contrary, Stanford will be looking to shorten the game as much as possible; the Cardinal will seek to chew up clock with a ball-control balanced attack by gradually and methodically moving the chains with first downs. Whichever team can successfully impose its preferred tempo on the game significantly gains the upper hand in this fight for supremacy on the West Coast.
At no other point in the college football season will viewers witness more of an evident clash in philosophies than with tonight’s showdown between Stanford and Oregon. The showdown is a collision featuring the two true giants of the region. Riding on the line are Heisman Trophy implications as well as an opportunity to better position the winner for a possible trip to Pasadena for the BCS title game.
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