For the fourth year in a row, Oregon has been selected by the media to finish first in the Pac-12 North Division. The Ducks are the overwhelming favorite, getting 37 of 39 first-place votes.
The other two votes went to the team that actually won the North Division the last two seasons — Stanford. While Oregon earns the preseason attention, Stanford is the team that has played in the Rose Bowl the last two seasons.
When told that Oregon had once again been picked the preseason favorite, Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan grinned and shrugged his shoulders.
“I can’t say that we pay attention to that stuff at all,” Hogan said, still smiling. “I feel like that stuff is more for the fans. I don’t think anybody pays attention to that, and I don’t think Oregon pays attention to that.”
Added Stanford safety Jordan Richards: “It really doesn’t matter to me. We don’t think about it much at all. We’ve won the Pac-12 title two years in a row, but we don’t start the season off 2-0.”
Stanford and Oregon are teams with vastly different styles. Oregon tries to play as fast as possible. Stanford tries to shove it down your throat. The Ducks thrive on pizzazz — they have more uniform combinations than players. Stanford is about as flashy as white rice, which could be one reason Oregon is the regular preseason favorite.
“What Oregon does is a little more flashy, and it works for them,” Richards said. “They’ve been really successful over the last eight, nine, ten years doing it their way. Obviously we have a different way…but we feel really confident in the guys we have here and the guys that have been part of this program.”
The teams will play each other Nov. 1 in a game that could have big implications on the Pac-12 title, which is what both teams care about.
“For us, taking it back, it’s been less about Oregon and more about our schemes, how we are going to play them and how we are going to play football, the edge, the tenacity and the physicality we’re going to play with,” Richards said. “For us, it’s just been focusing on what we can do and control.
“Oregon is going to push the tempo and the same Oregon team you see in the first quarter isn’t going to be the same team you see in the fourth quarter. You can’t tailor everything you do to them. You just have to line up, play football and let the best team win.”
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