In perhaps their toughest test of the season, the No. 13 Stanford Cardinal will look to extend their winning streak to five games by defeating the No. 2-ranked Oregon Ducks in Eugene on Saturday.
This matchup is one for the ages, as the two teams bring contrasting styles to the table. Stanford’s strong and powerful ground attack will try to wear down Oregon’s bend-but-don’t-break defense while the Ducks play offense at a level of speed that is arguably unmatched by any other team in the country.
The Cardinal offense was rejuvenated over the last couple of weeks by strong performances from quarterback Kevin Hogan. If the Cardinal want to keep up with the high-scoring Oregon offense, Hogan will have to be ready to throw the ball around against a Ducks secondary depleted by injuries.
Stepfan Taylor will, as usual, take the lead on the ground for the Cardinal. Oregon’s run defense has allowed nearly 150 yards per game this season, good enough for only fifth in the Pac-12, so Taylor could put up some good numbers.
The real matchup to watch is on the other side of the ball. Stanford boasts the best run defense in the country so far this year, allowing only 58 yards per game in 2012.
However, Oregon is ranked third nationally in rushing offense, averaging an astounding 325 yards per game on the ground in 2012. The key to this game for the Cardinal will be stopping Kenjon Barner and Oregon’s rushing attack.
Stanford also needs to put pressure on quarterback Marcus Mariota, who tossed six touchdown passes last weekend against Cal. Mariota is having an excellent year, leading the nation in passer rating, so the Cardinal need to make him as uncomfortable as possible if they want to slow down Oregon’s high-powered offense.
The game kicks off at 5:00 on Saturday, so tune in to see one of the best matchups the Pac-12 can supply.