It's funny to think that this was premiere game of the PAC-12 just a few years ago. The game was covered by College GameDay, watched by the entire nation, and definitely not aired at 8 pm.
Oregon beat Stanford in the early part of their decade with their speedy backs. Then, Stanford turned the tables with their bruising defense and punishing running backs. Now however, Oregon relies on a power back while Stanford's Bryce Love utilizes his quick feet.
Oregon's Royce Freeman is a beast. If you think that San Diego State's Rashaad Penny was the best back Stanford would face, think again. Although he is not in many Heisman conversations, the 240-pound senior will be playing on Sundays.
Last game, Freeman has battled an injury and struggled his last few games, but prior to conference play, he dominated, and I expect a healthy Freeman to rebound versus the Cardinal defense. With Harrison Phillips and Peter Kalambayi out in the first half, Oregon should just keep feeding the rock to their main back because Stanford will struggle to stop him.
Luckily for the Stanford, Oregon is having quarterback troubles of their own. After the Duck's starting quarterback, Justin Herbert, broke his collarbone, Oregon has two options behind center. Braxton Burmeister started as a true freshman last week and threw two interceptions. Meanwhile, fifth-year senior Taylor Alie returns from a concussion. It's unsure who will start for the Ducks, but either player likely won't dominate the game.
Stanford meanwhile also faces a quarterback dilemma. Keller Chryst will start, but KJ Costello will also see time. This may be the game that one quarterback sets himself apart from the other, and this game is the game to find out. The Oregon defense really, really struggles to defend the pass, so David Shaw should have no problem letting both quarterbacks battle it out.
Supposedly, Oregon can stop the run. I mean they did supposedly shut down Arizona State, Cal, and Washington State. I'm somewhat impressed that the Ducks held the Sun Devils to only 2.7 yards per carry, but I couldn't name a single Cal running back, and Washington State throws like a hundred times per game.
There's no one in the nation like Bryce Love; Oregon can't be possibly be prepared for what's coming. I predict that Love will bolster his Heisman resume with at least 200 yards on the ground.
Even with Love on Stanford’s side though, this game will put us on the edge of our seats. Oregon will put points up on the board in the first half with Stanford's arguably two best defensive players out, but I also don't see Oregon's defense stopping Bryce Love and the Stanford offense. Ultimately, this game will be decided in the fourth quarter, and I predict Stanford wins 45-38.