Stanford faces a tough test 

November, 9, 2011

So Alabama-LSU turned out to be the worst "Game of the Century" ever. This week's Oregon-Stanford matchup might not have the cachet of No. 1 vs. No. 2, but it promises to be more entertaining. The two teams have spent the year as massive favorites as the BALLS Index (data courtesy of Sal Selvaggio from shows, but this figures to be an even matchup between two explosive teams that have averaged more than 80 total points in their past four meetings.

Andrew Luck is going to win the Heisman Trophy and be the top pick in the NFL draft, but to get a shot at playing for the BCS title, he'll need to avenge his one loss from last year, when Stanford blew a 21-3 lead before getting crushed 52-31. Stanford (8-0-1 ATS, 11.78 margin of cover) has played only one reasonably-good team thus far in USC, and it had to go to overtime to win. It's by far the biggest game of Luck's career. Oregon (5-2-1 ATS, 1.25 MOC) allows 5.9 yards per passing attempt (ninth in the nation), so Luck will be facing a legitimate pass defense. Current line: Stanford minus-3.5.

Geoff Kulesa of Wunderdog Sports thinks that Stanford will continue its perfect season: "Undefeated teams with 9-plus wins playing at home are 18-7 ATS since 1982, including just two ATS losses in the last 17 such matchups," Kulesa said. "There's too much riding on this game for Luck and Stanford."

If Stanford wins, it's going to need to hope Oklahoma State (7-2 ATS, 6.22) falls in its road matchup at Texas Tech. This is unprecedented territory for OK State, which now has the inside track to face LSU in the title game. Long the little brother within its own state, and nothing more than an afterthought on the national level until recent years, Oklahoma State will need to prove it can handle increased pressure. Texas Tech has been terrible since upsetting Oklahoma three weeks ago, losing by 34 and 32 points to Iowa State and Texas, respectively. But Tech's upset win over Oklahoma shows it's an opponent that has to be taken seriously, especially in a marquee game at home. OK State is a 16.5-point favorite currently.

The Boise St.-TCU game is a matchup between two top-10 BALLS teams. Despite impressive records, these teams aren't as good as they have been in recent years. Also, you have to wonder if Boise (4-4 ATS, 1.63 MOC) is the least bit frustrated that once again, despite being undefeated, it has virtually no chance of playing for the BCS title based on the current BCS rankings. (Boise can take some solace in being No. 1 in BALLS. OK, not much.) Boise is a 15-point favorite.

This figures to be another low-scoring affair, as the teams split their 2008 and 2009 bowl game matchups with the winner scoring only 17 points each year.

Finally, a quick word on offensive juggernaut Houston, the only undefeated team not in the top 10 of the BCS. According to Selvaggio, even after adjusting for strength of schedule (and to be fair, Houston's opponents won't be making an appearance on the BALLS Index anytime soon), the Cougars have the best offense in the country. Oddsmakers haven't been able to make the lines big enough, with Houston an impressive 6-2 ATS and a 9.25 MOC. Another romp is expected this week, with Houston a 34-point favorite against Tulane.

Here are the top 10 BALLS teams:

Jeff Gold

ESPN Contributor