Oregon could muddle Pac-12 championship picture – Santa Rosa Press Democrat
So, seventh-ranked Stanford looks like a lock for the Pac-12 North title, right? Not so fast.
Oregon visits the Cardinal this weekend, and while the Ducks are underdogs, there’s still a chance — albeit an improbable one — that they could defend their Pac-12 championship. But there are a couple of moving parts.
Here’s the scenario: Oregon must beat Stanford then win its final two games against USC and Oregon State. The Ducks will also need the Cardinal to lose in the Big Game to Cal.
Stanford, which finishes out the regular season with an out-of-conference game against Notre Dame, clinches the North outright with a victory over Oregon on Saturday, and indeed, the Cardinal (8-1, 7-0 Pac-12) are favored.
But don’t underestimate the Ducks. Quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. is back after an early season finger injury and Oregon (6-3, 4-2) is riding a three-game winning streak while playing as well as it has all season.
Oregon would no doubt like to turn the table on Stanford — which upset the Ducks in both 2012 and 2013 and kept them out of the conference championship game and the chance for that coveted shot at the Rose Bowl.
“The last four years the winner of this game has won the Pac-12 championship so it’s everything. For us our ultimate goal every year is to win the Pac-12 and we have a chance this Saturday so it’s huge,” Stanford linebacker Kevin Anderson said.
Adams said it’s hard not to think about the possibility of a conference championship berth. Oregon went to the national championship game last season.
“We don’t want to be just completely thinking about the Pac-12 North, but it’s in our minds, definitely,” Adams said. “Hopefully, we just get this win and things happen. We’ve got to win one game at a time and go from there.”
Washington State (6-3, 4-2) is out of contention for the North title because of how the tie-breaker rules play out, but the good news for the Cougars is that they are already bowl eligible. It looks as if coach Mike Leach is finally turning the program around in Pullman.