"It is at once a confident and anxious time on the campus of college football's coolest program. On Saturday night, the No. 5-ranked Ducks (7-1)-the sport's winningest team since 2010-are home to face Stanford (5-3), which is having a down year. Stanford, however, is where Oregon's season has gone south the past two years. The Ducks will either move one step closer to a spot in the inaugural four-team College Football Playoff, or continue vexing their surprisingly insecure fans."
"Cardinal safety Zach Hoffpauir won't play because of an undisclosed injury suffered in the win over Oregon State, while nose tackle David Parry could miss his second consecutive game with a leg injury."
"But a new Stanford defense was born in the aftermath of Oregon's dominance, and the tables soon turned in shocking fashion. Just one season later, the unit had gone from Oregon's punching bag to the Ducks' kryptonite.
Suddenly, two straight Cardinal wins later, Oregon had a Stanford problem."
"Hating Washington is at the very core of a Duck fan's being. Nothing can ever match that. Oregon State is a friendly rivalry. We certainly are tired of losing to Stanford, and you could say that bad blood is escalating. But this isn't really a rivalry. You need more than a couple of years of bad blood for that."
"Now, Stanford gets set to face off against the big, bad Ducks as the lower ranked team, written off by every "expert" in the land. Where have we seen this script before?"
"A win and the Cardinal will be right back to where they finished the past two seasons -- on top of the Pac-12 North. Having something tangible to play for isn't underrated. Shaw would receive a bulk of the credit for navigating a difficult stretch and turning things around in time for who has become Stanford's biggest rival.
A loss and Shaw would have a new season-high in that column with three regular-season games to play. The rest of the season would carry little significance"
"Although Stanford's defense will likely play a deciding factor in how the Cardinal fare against the Ducks, they probably won't shut out Heisman-contender Marcus Mariota and an offense which averages 45.5 points per game. In that case, the Cardinal will have to score and score often in order to stay in the game."
"Stanford's offense isn't what the team is known best for, but senior Ty Montgomery is a bonafide star. The Dallas native has 49 catches for 514 yards and three touchdowns to go along with 92 rushing yards on 19 attempts and another score. But what scares the Ducks most is his ability on special teams. Montgomery has taken two punts back for touchdowns, averaging nearly 19 yards per return. He's just as deadly off the kickoff, with 12 returns for 319 yards and a season-long 62-yarder, Montgomery is one player who can change the game with one touch."
"The Cardinal's chances to win depends on if they can play a flawless game - no turnovers, no fumbles, no penalties and with a high third-down conversion rate. While their performance against OSU helped reestablish my (shaky) confidence in its ability to compete with the Ducks, the Stanford offense won't be able to produce enough points to pull it off in the end."
"I expect the Cardinal to try, fail and then move on to the style of offense it used against Oregon State: one back, multiple receivers, perimeter runs, zone reads, etc. If the Cardinal does find success with its between-the-tackles running game, it would be the first time against top competition. (USC, Notre Dame and Arizona State all stuffed the Cardinal.) I don't think much of Oregon's defense, but it seems unlikely that Stanford will run the ball well enough to replicate the success it had last year."
"Oregon junior quarterback Marcus Mariota is seeking to beat Stanford for the first time in his career."
"From 2010 to 2013, the winner of the Stanford-Oregon matchup - all games in which the Cardinal and Ducks were both ranked in the top 15 - went on to win the conference and play in the Rose Bowl or the national championship game, with the winner arguably laying claim to the title of "Best in the West" each year."
"Stanford's had some success slowing down Oregon the last couple of years, but the Ducks' furious rally in 2013 is a stark reminder of how hard it is to keep Marcus Mariota and company at bay for 60 minutes. Depth, especially on the defensive line, is essential for success against Oregon and Stanford is barren in that department at the moment."
"While Oregon's offense is much better than anything Stanford has faced, they've actually faced a fair amount of good offensive teams: USC (21st), Notre Dame (22nd), and Arizona State (29th). Coincidentally they've lost to all of those teams. I say that that's a coincidence because it's not likely that those games were lost because of offensive struggles."
"Dan Rubenstein makes his picks against the spread for Week 10's biggest games - Ole Miss-Auburn, Oregon-Stanford, Arizona State-Utah, West Virginia-TCU, and Florida State-Louisville - over tacos, nachos, and carne asada fries at the always spectacular Calexico."
"Don't let the Cardinal's 5-3 record fool you. Stanford has proved to be Oregon's kryptonite the past two seasons and the task won't be any easier this year, because this is Pac-12 football where anyone can beat anyone on any given night."
"In this game, it's strength against strength, and weakness against weakness. With a healthy Jake Fisher, this has been arguably the best Oregon offense we've ever seen. It's time for them to break out against the tree. If they can move the ball on the ground (as they did in 2011 and 2012), this game won't be close. If they struggle like they have the last couple years, it could be a long night for the Ducks."