No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 6 Stanford
Nov. 17, 2012
The Cardinal defense held the Oregon offense in check as Stanford beat the Ducks 17-14 in overtime on a field goal by Jordan Williamson as time ran out. Oregon -- ranked No. 2 at the time -- seemed well on their way to a Pac-12 championship appearance until the loss. Stanford held ten all-world redshirt freshman QB Marcus Mariota to his worst career game -- 207 passing yards, one touchdown, one interception, and 89 yards rushing. For Stanford, running back Stepfan Taylor toted the rock 33 times for 161 yards, and helped Stanford thump Oregon in time of possession: 37 minutes to 23 minutes.
Pac-12 game of the year -- so far
On Thursday night, No. 2 Oregon (8-0, 5-0 in Pac-12) will travel to the farm to take on No. 6 Stanford (7-1, 4-1). The Ducks on the road this year are 3-0 with wins against Virginia, Colorado and Washington. Stanford is 4-0 at home with wins against SJSU, Arizona State, Washington and UCLA. Oregon has had a relatively easy schedule in 2013, playing two ranked opponents -- Washington on Oct. 12, and UCLA on Oct. 26.
Ducks in the air
While the Oregon spread offense is still potent on the ground -- second in the nation with 331.5 yards per game – the Ducks, led by Mariota’s 20 touchdowns and zero interceptions, The two main receivers for the Ducks are senior Josh Huff and sophomore Bralon Addison. Huff has caught a touchdown in five of the past six games (six TDs on the year) while Addison leads the team with seven touchdowns. Oregon will spread the field with three and four wide receiver sets, rarely throwing to tight ends (starting TE Colt Lyerla quit the team last month).
Stanford D vs. the pass
The Stanford pass defense starts with their heralded front seven. The Cardinal is tied for second in the nation with 27 sacks in eight games, led by senior star defenive end Trent Murphy (9.5 sacks). After Ben Gardner’s injury, senior Josh Mauro and Henry Anderson will be asked to step up in his place opposite Murphy. Mauro is third on the team with four sacks. The secondary is led by junior Jordan Richards and his team leading three interceptions. Sophomore Alex Carter and junior Wayne Lyons will man the outsides at corner.
Oregon rushing attack
Oregon is second in the nation with 331.5 rushing yards per game. Sophomore Byron Marshall (San Jose, CA) leads the Ducks with 879 yards and 12 touchdowns after stepping in as starter for injured junior De’Anthony Thomas. The speedy Thomas is now fully healthy after missing four games due to an injured ankle. In his collegiate career Thomas is averaging 8.4 yards per carry. Freshman Thomas Tyner is the third running back Oregon employs. The former 5-star prospect has 437 yards on 68 carries with eight touchdowns this year. Expect the explosive Marcus Mariota to also run it. in 56 attempts, he's rushed for 511 yards and nine touchdowns.
Cardinal against the run
Stanford ranks No. 10 in NCAA, allowing 103.3 rushing yards per game. In addition, the defense doesn’t let the opposition score on the ground, giving up a mere five rushing touchdowns all year. The last time the Cardinal 3-4 defense faced off against a dual-threat quarterback, they held UCLA’s Brett Hundley to 27 yards on 11 carries. Stanford is led by defensive end Trent Murphy -- 13.5 tackles for loss -- and linebacker Shayne Skov who leads the team with 63 total tackles.
Stanford air assault
In previous years, Stanford was led by its current NFL tight ends Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo. Upon their graduation, quarterback Kevin Hogan needed to find new targets, which he has in Ty Montgomery and Devon Cajuste. Montgomery has been more consistent, averaging nearly four receptions for 77.4 yards a game. Cajuste was relatively unknown coming into the season with one career catch prior to 2013, but the 6-foot-4, 232-pound receiver has come up big for Hogan this year. He is returning from a knee injury, but caught seven passes for 109 yards in his previous game against UCLA.
Duck pass defense
Even though Oregon presents the No. 58 ranked pass defense in the nation, they are much better than their ranking would suggest. Opponents are averaging 43 attempts per game. The upper-class laden secondary is led by potential first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft Ifo Ekpre-Olomu at cornerback. In his first year as a starter at Oregon, Ekpre-Olomu led the Pac-12 with 20 pass breakups. Fellow corner Terrance Mitchell (Sacramento, CA) is no slouch either, leading the Ducks with four interceptions including one returned for a touchdown.
Stanford ground and pound
Stanford uses two senior backs in their run game -- Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson. Gaffney has been the workhorse, carrying the ball 166 times in eight games while scoring 12 touchdowns on the ground. Wilkerson has seen his production slide in the past four games, but still has 207 yards rushing on the year. Up front, Stanford is yet again talented, led by All-American senior guard David Yankey. Stanford will also play some “jumbo” sets, where they employ a tight end as an additional offensive lineman.
Oregon's response to the run game
Oregon is known as a speed team, but they are also massive up front defensively. In the middle of the defensive line is a pair of behemoth tackles, Arik Armstead (6-foot-8, 280 pounds) and Wade Keliikipi (6-foot-3, 306 pounds). Armstead, Keliikipi and others have helped lead Oregon's No. 26 ranked rush defense, which allows 130.9 yards per game. Oregon was susceptible to the run last game, as UCLA gained 219 yards on the ground.