Stanford at Oregon
September 20, 2018
By Brian Edwards
Editor's Note: Brian Edwards is ready to get after the books this week with plays loaded for Friday, in addition to his package for Saturday. Also, don't miss out on his next pay-if-it-wins-only selection.
Matchup: No. 7 Stanford at No. 20 Oregon
Venue: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon
TV/Time: ABC, 8:00 p.m. ET
Two unbeaten Pac-12 North contenders are poised to collide Saturday night at Autzen Stadium in Eugene on ABC at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. As of Thursday morning, most books had Stanford (3-0 straight up, 2-1 against the spread) installed as a two-point favorite at Oregon. The total was 56 points, while the Ducks were +110 on the money line (risk $100 to win $110).
David Shaw’s team has won four of the past six head-to-head meetings with the Ducks, including back-to-back wins by a combined score of 101-34. The Cardinal destroyed Oregon by a 49-7 count as a 10-point home ‘chalk’ on ‘The Farm’ last year, and they won 52-27 at this venue in 2016.
We should note that Oregon faced Stanford without star QB Justin Herbert last year. The result was 33 passing yards without a TD throw and two interceptions. Stanford QB Keller Chryst, who is now a back-up at Tennessee as a grad transfer, threw three TD passes vs. the Ducks. K.J. Costello, who is now Stanford’s starter under center, completed 5-of-6 throws for 59 yards and one TD without an interception.
Bryce Love, the eventual Heisman Trophy runner-up who produced 2,118 yards and 19 TDs in 2017, rushed 17 times for 147 yards and two TDs in the blowout victory. WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside had six receptions for 112 yards and two TDs.
Shaw’s team got off to a slow start in its season opener vs. San Diego State. However, Stanford outscored the Aztecs 22-3 in the second half en route to a 31-10 victory as a 14-point home ‘chalk.’ The 41 combined points dropped ‘under’ the 49-point total. Costello hit on 21-of-31 passes for 332 yards and four TDs with one interception.
Rocky Long’s defense keyed on Love and limited him to merely 29 rushing yards on 18 carries. Arcega-Whiteside enjoyed a stellar performance, hauling in six receptions for 226 yard and three TDs.
Stanford faced USC in double-revenge mode on Sept. 8. The Trojans ran the Cardinal out of The Coliseum in a 42-24 home win last September, and then they captured a 31-28 victory over Shaw’s club in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Stanford would get even, though, with a 17-3 triumph as a five-point home favorite.
Love rushed for 136 yards and one TD on 22 totes against the Trojans, who threw two costly interceptions while Stanford played turnover-free football. Costello threw for 183 yards and one TD without being intercepted. TE Kaden Smith, a second-team All-American in most preseason publications who garnered first-team All-Pac-12 honors as a redshirt freshman in 2017, had four catches for 77 yards.
Stanford rested Love last week in a 30-10 non-covering home win over UC Davis as a 31-point favorite. The Aggies led 3-0 at the end of the first quarter, but the Cardinal scored 30 unanswered points until UC Davis scored on a 26-yard TD pass on the games final play.
Costello threw for 214 yards and two TDs, but he was intercepted twice. After posting a 14/4 touchdown-to-interception ratio in seven starts in ’17, Costello has a 7/3 TD-INT ratio through three games. He’s completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 729 yards. Smith had six receptions for 68 yards vs. UC Davis, while Arcega-Whiteside had three catches for 36 yards and two TDs. Trevor Speights had 87 rushing yards on 11 carries.
Arcega-Whiteside has 13 receptions for 324 yards. The junior WR is tied for third in the nation with five TD catches. Smith has caught 12 balls for 163 yards, while Trenton Irwin has 13 catches for 90 yards.
With many teams playing softer schedules against non-conference competition in early September, I don’t put too much stock into national team stats until we get about five games deep into the season. Nevertheless, we’d be remiss to not point out how Stanford is tops in the country in scoring defense, allowing only 7.7 points per game to date. The Cardinal is ranked 23rd in the nation in both total defense and at defending the run.
Senior LB Sean Barton has a team-best 21 tackles, one sack and one QB hurry, while senior CB Alameen Murphy has recorded 19 tackles and one interception for a 32-yard return. Senior LB Joey Alfieri has produced 18 tackles, 2.5 sacks, two tackles for loss, three QB hurries, one forced fumble and one pass broken up.
Oregon (3-0 SU, 0-3 ATS) has posted home wins over Bowling Green (58-24), Portland State (62-14) and San Jose State (35-22), so this conference opener is a big step up in class. The Ducks failed to cover the spreads that were -34.5, -50 and -42.5, respectively.
Mario Cristobal is Oregon’s new head coach, replacing Willie Taggart after he left to take his dream jog at FSU following just one season in Eugene. The Ducks went 7-6 SU and 6-7 ATS last year under Taggart, but they went 6-1 in Herbert’s seven regular-season starts. An injury forced him to miss five games and Oregon lost four of those contests.
The 47-year-old Cristobal was a starting offensive tackle at Miami on a pair of national-championship teams in 1989 and ’91. After serving as an assistant coach at UM for six seasons and spending three years on staff at Rutgers, Cristobal became head coach at Florida International in 2007.
He inherited an FIU program that was winless in ’06, but he led the school to back-to-back bowl appearances in 2010 and ’11. However, after a 3-9 record in ’12, Cristobal was fired. After initially rejoining the staff at his alma mater in Coral Gables, Nick Saban hired him to be Alabama’s recruiting coordinator.
During his four seasons in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide finished No. 1 nationally in recruiting each year. Cristobal left Alabama in January of 2017 to join Taggart’s staff at Oregon and was then given the HC gig when Taggart bolted for Tallahassee.
Cristobal inherited a squad that brought back seven starters apiece on offense and defense (14 total). If we count the 38-28 loss to Boise State as a seven-point underdog in last year’s Las Vegas Bowl, Cristobal is 0-4 ATS since taking over the Ducks.
Herbert had a 34/9 career TD-INT ratio in 15 starts as a freshman and sophomore. He’s completed 46-of-81 passes (56.8%) for 840 yards with a 12/4 TD-INT ratio this season. Herbert, who had five rushing TDs in ’17, has 41 rushing yards and one TD through three games.
Seven different targets have caught at least four balls. Johnny Johnson, who started 10 games at WR as a true freshman last season, has six receptions for 134 yards and four TDs. Jaylon Redd has five catches for 117 yards, while Dillon Mitchell has six grabs for 98 yards and one TD.
Oregon is three-deep at the RB position led by RS freshman C.J. Verdell, who has 199 rushing yards for one TD with a 5.1 YPC average. Tony Brooks-James has run for 173 yards and two TDs while averaging 4.8 YPC, and Travis Dye has 122 rushing yards and one TD for a 6.4 YPC average.
Oregon is eighth in the nation in scoring with its 51.7 PPG average. The Ducks are ranked 10th in run defense, but they certainly haven’t faced anyone of the caliber of Love yet.
Stanford senior LB Casey Toohill is ‘out’ for the next 3-4 weeks after sustaining an arm injury in last week’s win over UC Davis. Toohill had contributed 14 tackles, three QB hurries, two passes broken up and one sack already.
Oregon starting junior WR Brenden Schooler is listed as ‘questionable’ after suffering a concussion vs. San Jose State. Schooler, who had 20 receptions for 274 yards and three TDs in ’17, has four catches for 30 yards this year.
After the 82 combined points sailed ‘over’ the 69.5-point total in its opener vs. Bowling Green, the ‘under’ has cashed in back-to-back games for Oregon. This is the Ducks’ first game as home underdog on Cristobal’s watch. They’re 3-3 ATS in six such spots over the past decade, including a 1-1 mark both SU and ATS in ’17.
As a road favorite during Shaw’s eight-year tenure, Stanford owns a 17-12 spread record in 29 games as a road ‘chalk.’ The Cardinal went 8-1 ATS in its first nine such situation in ’11 and ’12, but it’s just 9-11 ATS as a road favorite since, including a 0-3 ATS ledger last year.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- Tony Miller, the Sports Book Director at The Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, posted lines for Alabama against potential CFP opponents on Wednesday. Miller put up spreads for Alabama vs. four different teams. If these matchups don’t materialize, bettors buying tickets for these potential games will be given refunds. Miller installed Nick Saban’s team as a 9.5-point favorite vs. Ohio State, a 10.5-point ‘chalk’ vs. Georgia, an 11.5-point favorite against Clemson and a 14.5-point favorite vs. Oklahoma. We’ll assume that tickets bought for Alabama vs. Georgia will apply to the SEC Championship Game if they collide there rather than in the CFP.
-- In Alabama’s first three games, gamblers backing the Tide in its game, the first half and the first quarter have cashed each of those tickets. Furthermore, there’s a perfect record for wagering on the Tide’s team total ‘over’ for the game, first half and first quarter.
-- Eastern Michigan is an 11.5-point underdog at San Diego State for a 10:30 p.m. Eastern kick on the CBS Sports College Network. The Aztecs, who are off a 28-21 upset win over previously-unbeaten Arizona State as five-point home underdogs, are 18-23 ATS as home favorites during Rocky Long’s eight-year tenure. They’ll be without starting QB Christian Chapman and senior DT Noble Hall, who has a wrist injury. Hall had 39 tackles, five TFL’s, 3.5 sacks and four QB hurries in ’17. In addition, San Diego State sophomore safety Tariq Thompson can't play in the first half due to a targeting infraction in the second half of the win over ASU. Thompson started all 13 games as a freshman and garnered second-team All-MWC honors by producing 63 tackles, five interception, four PBU, three QB hurries and three TFL’s. Eastern Michigan (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS) is in a tough spot here venturing out West for what is its third road assignment in three weeks. The Eagles won 20-19 at Purdue as 15-point underdogs two weeks ago before losing a 35-28 decision at undefeated Buffalo as three-point ‘dogs last week. Chris Creighton’s team is 12-2 ATS in its past 14 games as a road ‘dog.
-- Even though Hawaii lost for the first time in a brutal travel spot at Army last week, the Warriors were deep in the red zone in attempt to force overtime when a fourth-down play came up short. Nevertheless, QB Cole McDonald still leads the nation in passing yards with 1,486 (granted, he has an extra game under his belt compared to most of the nation’s other QBs), and he has 15 TD passes without an interception. McDonald also has 144 rushing yards and two TDs. Hawaii returns home to face FCS foe Duquesne this week.
-- Boston College and Utah State are the country’s only two teams who are 3-0 ATS and have seen the ‘over’ hit in each of its outings. Meanwhile, Ga. Southern and Vanderbilt are the nation’s only squads who are 3-0 ATS and have watched the ‘under’ cash at a 3-0 clip.
-- UConn is 0-3 ATS with the ‘over’ hitting in all three of its games. Ohio, which had an open date in Week 2, and Nebraska, which saw its opener vs. Akron get postponed, are both 0-2 ATS. The Bobcats have seen the ‘over’ go 2-0, while the ‘under’ has been a winner in both contests for the Cornhuskers.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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