No. 9 Stanford travels to No. 4 Oregon for a Pac-10 showdown with the Ducks before a national television audience. This ain't no pop quiz. Let's cram, shall we?
Opening Number: 100
As in Stanford's scoring percentage in 26 trips inside the red zone. Nate Whitaker provided all the offense Stanford needed and captured Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week honors with five field goals against Notre Dame, but the Cardinal need to do a better job of finishing drives to have a chance against Oregon's high-octane attack.
Players to Watch
John Boyett, Oregon S: Boyett, who defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti refers to as a wild stallion, leads the Ducks in tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown last week against Arizona State. He is one of a number of ball-hawking Oregon defenders who have combined to force 18 turnovers this season
LaMichael James, Oregon RB: James has rushed for at least 100 yards in 10 consecutive regular season games, including a 125-yard effort against Stanford last season.
Chris Owusu, Stanford WR: Owusu, who had a big day against the Ducks last season (4 catches, 111 yards, 1 TD), is coming off of a quiet performance in which he caught only two balls against the Fighting Irish. With Ryan Whalen's status uncertain, he could once again find himself as Luck's No. 1 option.
Sione Fua, Stanford NT: It will be up to Fua (2 sacks, 2 TFL this season) and the rest of the Cardinal defensive line to slow James enough at the line of scrimmage so that he can't hit Stanford's second level at close to top speed.
"Monumental" -- That's how Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh described Saturday's game, and it's a fair assessment.
"GameDay" -- The ESPN crew is in Eugene for the marquee matchup of the week, so prepare for some signage featuring Andrew Luck puns. Come kickoff, those of us on the East Coast will have to settle for standard definition.
- "Opportunistic" -- The Ducks 'D' forced seven turnovers in last week's win over Arizona State, while Luck is coming off the first two-interception game of his career. Look for Stanford to establish the run early and try to take advantage of Oregon's aggressive defense with some deep routes off of play-action.
"Supwitchugirl" -- From the Oregon students who brought you "I Love My Ducks," comes "Return of the Quack" and an entertaining video featuring Joey Harrington. Perhaps Stanford graduates MC Lars and K. Flay could collaborate on a Cardinal football song. Make it happen.
Additional Reading (For You Dedicated Students):
- The Daily Axe is expecting a huge day from Andrew Luck and a Stanford win.
- The Stanford Daily dishes on the top-10 showdown with The Daily Emerald.
- Study break! Stanford wins EA Sports' simulation, which features some ridiculous mascot-on-mascot action.
- Austin Murphy is interested to see how Stanford's smash-mouth offense matches up against Oregon's speedy and turnover-minded defense.
- Jon Wilner is picking Stanford (and provides 5 reasons why), as is John Tamahana. Stewart Mandel, 4 out of 5 CBS Sports experts, and Ted Miller all like the Ducks, with Miller citing the difficulty that Andrew Luck will have calling audibles in raucous Autzen Stadium as one of the determining factors in the game. Yahoo!'s 4 experts are split.
Closing Number: 59.1
As in Stanford's conversion percentage on third down, which is second-best in the nation.
Prediction: Stanford 38, Oregon 35. I think Whitaker may retain his POW honors after all, but this time it will be for the quality of his kicks--including a game-winning FG late in the fourth quarter--and not the quantity.
I hope you'll join me for a running commentary throughout the game in the Gameday open thread and on Twitter. Go Cardinal!