No. 5 Stanford has bounced back from an upset loss to Utah with wins against strong UCLA and Oregon State teams. David Shaw’s squad will carry that momentum into this week’s huge matchup against the No. 3 Oregon Ducks.
The Ducks are one of the most dominant teams in the nation, and will give Stanford its biggest test of the season. Perhaps the toughest challenge facing the Cardinal is containing dual-threat quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Mariota is one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, and he can beat you in a number of ways. In fact, he has yet to throw an interception so far in 2013. Still, Stanford has the personnel on defense to stop the Ducks and a blueprint for victory.
Shayne Skov, Trent Murphy, and Ed Reynolds are only a few of the numerous starters that return on a potent Cardinal defense that allowed Oregon’s explosive offense to score only 14 points a season ago.
Mariota is not the only dangerous weapon on a balanced Oregon offense filled with playmakers. De’Anthony Thomas will be returning from an ankle injury that has kept him out of most of the past few games, so Stanford will need to keep fresh legs in the game in order to contain the speed of the Ducks.
On the other side of the ball, Kevin Hogan killed Oregon last year with his ability to extend plays. Oregon’s defense has been quite strong this season, but it has yet to face an offensive line as strong as Stanford’s.
The Cardinal front wall will need to give Hogan enough time to get comfortable against one of the best cornerback tandems in the nation in Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Terrance Mitchell. The return of Devin Cajuste on the outside should help Hogan get comfortable early against the Ducks.
Oregon has also been solid against the run, but again, it will have quite a challenge facing Stanford’s front wall. Cameron Fleming and David Yankey lead a group of big men that can move bodies at will once the ground game picks up, and Tyler Gaffney has demonstrated an ability to wear defenses down out of the backfield.
The game kicks off at 6:00 p.m. PT, so be sure to tune in to the most highly-anticipated battle of the Pac-12 season.