This will be fun: No. 20 Oregon vs. No 7 Stanford
By the numbers, stats and gambling spread
It’s show time for No. 20 Oregon. The undefeated Ducks open conference play against No. 7 Stanford (3-0) at Autzen Stadium. The Cardinal could be the most complete team the Ducks face all season. A win would give Oregon its first 4-0 start since 2014 and the early lead in the race for the Pac-12 North Division title.
Numbers to know: The most dangerous duo in the conference? Linebacker Justin Hollins and defensive end Jalen Jelks have a combined 36 tackles for loss since the start of 2017 (16 games).
Fun fact: Oregon has won 10 of its last 13 games against Top 10 opponents at Autzen Stadium.
Betting line: Stanford favored by 2 points.
Players to keep an eye on
Senior running back Bryce Love is Stanford’s star: The Heisman Trophy runner-up is a weapon with his quick change of pace and explosive speed. Love sat out last week with an undisclosed injury, but is expected to return against Oregon. Against the Ducks in 2017, Love reached the 100-yard rushing mark in less than five minutes, and finished with 147 yards on 17 carries before leaving the game early in the third quarter.
Junior wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside can’t be overlooked: He leads the Pac-12 with five touchdowns this season and is a big play threat. A reliable target for quarterback K.J. Costello, Arcega-Whiteside has caught 13 passes for 324 yards, averaging 24.9 yards per reception.
Keys to an Oregon win
Oregon can’t overlook the Stanford’s improved passing game: Oregon’s defense is among the nation’s best in stopping the run. Jalen Jelks and Justin Hollins are a dangerous duo, combining for 9.5 tackles for loss with 5.5 sacks through three games. But Stanford can also burn you though the air if you bottle up the run game and put too much focus on Love. Costello has seven touchdown passes in the first three games, tying Andrew Luck (2011) and Kevin Hogan (2014) for the most in the David Shaw era.
Protect quarterback Justin Herbert: Stanford sacked USC quarterback JT Daniels four times. Oregon’s offensive line must win in the trenches to give Herbert a chance against a Cardinal defense that has allowed an average of 7.7 points per game, a nation’s best.
Both Oregon and Stanford are coming off of lackluster victories. The Ducks’ closer-than-expected 35-22 victory over San Jose State exposed uncertainty at the running back position while Herbert had an uncharacteristic performance and tossed two interceptions. The Cardinal were without Love in a 30-10 home win over UC Davis.
Injury updates: Junior wide receiver Brenden Schooler (concussion protocol) is the only questionable Duck. Right guard Dallas Warmack and left tackle Penei Sewell both suffered ankle injuries on Saturday but coach Mario Cristobal said the were full-go Sunday in practice and 100 percent healthy. Kicker Adam Stick, who has missed the first three games, is expected to return for Stanford.
In 2017: Last season Stanford destroyed Oregon, 49-7, in a game in which the Ducks were without Herbert and penalties (nine for 109 yards) halted UO's offensive momentum.
National Stage: ESPN's College GameDay broadcast will originate Saturday from the University of Oregon campus. The show will air from 6-9 a.m. on ESPN, and will be staged in the grass area of Oregon's memorial quad.
How and where to watch
Time: Saturday, Sept. 22, 5 p.m
Where: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon
Radio: KUGN-AM (590), KUJZ-FM (95.3), KZEL-FM (96.1)