Jalen Jelks

NFL Draft Galore: Four Oregon Ducks find great fits in NFL

NFL Draft Galore: Four Oregon Ducks find great fits in NFL

The 2019 NFL Draft is over and four Ducks became ProDucks. As expected, all four Oregon players were drafted in the mid-to-late rounds. This is the most Ducks drafted since 2015, when NFL teams selected five Ducks, with second overall pick Marcus Mariota leading the way. Before the draft, there were 19 active Ducks on NFL rosters.

Ugo Amadi was the first Duck off the board by the Seattle Seahawks and drafted in the fourth round at No.132 overall.

READ: Here is why the Lombardi Trophy winner is a perfect fit for the *new* Legion of Boom.

READ: Also, it appears Amadi became a father today.

Next, the Denver Broncos selected Justin Hollins in the fifth round, No. 156 overall.

READ: Hollins will compete to be Denver's third pass rusher beside future Hall of Fame linebacker Von Miller and former first round pick Bradley Chubb.

The third Duck off the board was wide receiver Dillon Mitchell, who is ready to make the NFL world 'eat their words'.

READ: The Vikings drafted Mitchell in 7th round with a need for a No. 3 receiver

With picks dwindling, the Dallas Cowboys, starving for pass-rushers, drafted Jalen Jelks with the 241st pick. 

READ: Jelks, a relentless edge rusher eager to improve, is the newest Cowboy

Jelks and Mitchell went later in the draft than expected. Some teams struggled with where Jelks fits from a position standpoint because he is a bit of a “tweener”, plus a lackluster NFL Combine performance added to late selection. In the case of Mitchell, the UO single season receiving yards record holder, had to compete against a 2019 receivers group full of incredible, large athletes who excel in contested catches.

Because of Mitchell's slide, many poised the question, would it have been smarter for the reciever to return to Oregon for his senior season? It'd be hard to replicate his break out junior season and another year of stats would not have improved his NFL projections much. Striking while the iron was hot and not risking injury still seems like the smarter play for a receiver who didn't have much to gain as an NFL prospect by returning. 

Two more Ducks signed as free agents; Kano Dillon with the Washington Redskins and Tony Brooks-James with the Atlanta Hawks.

The majority of Oregon’s top NFL prospects came back for their senior season: quarterback Justin Herbert, offensive linemen Calvin Throckmorton, Jake Hansen, Shane Lemieux and linebacker Travis Dye. By the way, Herbert already is the talk of the town. The league is licking its lips at Herbert, the 6-foot-6, 235-pound passer with the powerful right arm and sneaky fast wheels.

A total of 30 Pac-12 players were drafted to the NFL this year

Dallas Cowboys, starving for pass-rushers, draft Jalen Jelks

Dallas Cowboys, starving for pass-rushers, draft Jalen Jelks

The Dallas Cowbodys selected Jalen Jelks in the seventh round with the 241st pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Here is what the Cowboys are getting with the ProDuck and how Jelks fits the team’s needs.

TEAM NEEDS Dallas entered the NFL Draft knowing that the defensive line had to be the priority and starving for pass rushers. With Randy Gregory suspended, the Cowboys needed to find a complement to pass-rusher Demarcus Lawrence. Jalen Jelks, a relentless edge rusher eager to improve, could be their guy. With his ability to use his length as a weapon in pursuit of the quarterback, Jelks could challenge for reps early in his career or become an every-down player with development.

YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW THAT Through his five seasons with Oregon, he experienced a Rose Bowl victory, a National Championship run, a 4-8 losing season, three different head coaches and three different defensive coordinators.

AT OREGON Jelks flourished in 2017 during a breakout junior campaign, setting career-highs with 59 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks. As a senior, he switched from defensive end to linebacker and was a nightmare for Pac-12 offenses. Although his sack (3.5) and tackle for loss (7.5) numbers dipped, he finished the season with 57 tackles, which led all Pac-12 defensive linemen and earned him first-team all-conference recognition.

PRAISED FOR Jelks has the intangibles: the try hard attitude and a relentless fighter who exudes competitiveness and aggression. Reportedly, the former Duck was an engaging interviewee at the NFL combine. Multiple reports said NFL teams were impressed by his leadership and personality.

STRENGTHS Jelks is a versatile chess piece that lined up all over Oregon’s defensive front and has the length most GMs dream about. His wingspan measured in at 83 inches at the NFL Combine. His initial quickness and lateral twitch are impressive while his point of attack has proven to be disruptive. Skilled in hand-to-hand combat. He saw action at both linebacker and at defensive end at the Senior Bowl.

NEEDS TO WORK ON Some teams will struggle with where he fits from a position standpoint.  He needs to add mass and strength to his long frame to withstand play in the NFL, as sometimes he tries to play more powerful than he’s capable of.

FUN FACT Would he rather be the Oregon Duck mascot for a day or sing and dance to “Shout” in the middle of Autzen Stadium with fans watching? “Definitely sing and dance in the middle of Autzen!”

BEST SOCIAL POST Can we all just appreciate the slow-motion video Jelks took of a dog going down a slide at a play ground? Social media needs more of this.

View this post on Instagram

What my day consisted of 😂

A post shared by Jalen J. Jelks (@jalenjelks) on

MEASUREABLES 6' 5", 256 LBS, 34 5/8” ARMS, 9 5/8” HANDS



Oregon Ducks and the NFL draft: The waiting game continues

Oregon Ducks and the NFL draft: The waiting game continues

Rounds one through three of the 2019 NFL Draft have wrapped up and Oregon did not have any players drafted. This is as expected, although a few projections had EDGE Jalen Jelks going as high as the second round. There are four Ducks that are widely expected to be drafted and a couple more that will hope to sign free agent contracts.


Here are some interesting notes from day two.

Quarterback Justin Herbert already is the talk of the town

The 2019 NFL Draft is still underway but everyone is already talking about Herbert again. The league is licking its lips at Herbert, the 6-foot-6, 235-pound passer with the powerful right arm and sneaky fast wheels.

Analysts are already looking towards 2020 and Oregon's quarterback is one of the top prospects on the board. It’s WAY too early but the hype for Herbert as possibly the top overall pick next year is already building.

Returning for Herbert’s senior season gives the Eugene-native the opportunity to further develop his decision-making, accuracy and improve as an NFL prospect. 

Over his three seasons at Oregon, Herbert has thrown for 7,070 passing yards, 63 passing touchdowns, 17 interceptions, plus 510 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns.

Pac-12 Pros

The Pac-12 Conference had eight players selected in the second and third rounds, 11 total after three Pac-12 players were drafted in the first round. Washington led the way with four Huskies picked.

Since the conference expanded to 12 teams, the lowest amount of Pac-12 picks in the first three rounds of the NFL draft was 10 players drafted in 2016.

The highest was 25 Pac-12 players selected in the first three rounds of the 2015 NFL draft (with Marcus Mariota leading the way).

News, rumors and analysis: Ducks and the NFL draft

News, rumors and analysis: Ducks and the NFL draft

The 2019 NFL Draft starts today! Oregon is not expected to have a player selected in Thursday’s first round for the third year in a row. However, crazier things have happened! Which Duck do you think will be selected first? Which Duck are you going to miss the most next season? If you want to be the UO fan in the know, I got you covered for the NFL Draft.

Here is what NFL teams are getting with each Duck.



Dillon Mitchell’s ability as a ball carrier, excellent route running, efficient footwork and yards after catch potential make him an enticing weapon for NFL offenses. He's projected to be a mid to late round selection.

[EXCLUSIVE] Dillon Mitchell gets real: His decision to go pro, which NFL teams he met with at the Combine and chemistry with Justin Herbert

READ: Mitchell is meeting with NFL teams and ready to make the world 'eat their words'

WATCH: Which team is going to fall in love with Dillon Mitchell?



How high in the draft will Jalen Jelks go? The NFL is always starving for pass rushers and Jelks could be quite attractive to some teams. Jelks has the length and pass rush ability many GMs dream about, however he weighs under 250 pounds. He's projected to be a mid round selection, but could be the first Duck off the board. 

READ: Here are some round predictions for the future Pro Duck

WATCH: Jalen Jelks needs 'right team with right system'



Is Justin Hollins majorly underrated? Hollins excelled in the NFL combine and impressed in the East-West Shrine Bowl, earning defensive MVP honors. He's projected to be a mid round selection, but could also be the first Duck off the board. 

READ: An NFL scout and a draft expert evaluate Oregon Ducks LB Justin Hollins

WATCH: Justin Hollins living up to the hype following NFL Combine



Any team that has a need for young, dependable and versatile safeties, will like Ugo Amadi. Amadi makes up for his less than ideal size with his speed, ability to affect the game and make plays on the ball. He's projected as a late round pick. 

READ: Underrated Ugo Amadi is stealing NFL teams’ attention

WATCH: Ugo Amadi's versatility could set him apart in draft class



Tony Brooks James got his chance to impress NFL scouts at Oregon's Pro Day after not receiving an invite to the NFL Combine. The Oregon runnng back recorded a 4.17, 20-yard shuttle, third among running backs, and a 7.2 second three-cone performance, placing him 10th out of 16 running backs who participated in the Combine. Brooks-James had 57 carries for 306 yards and 21 kickoff returns for 548 yards at UO before sitting out of the Redbox Bowl with a left knee injury. 

READ: It's do-or-die: Ducks leave it all on the field at Oregon Pro Day




NFL scout and a draft expert evaluate Oregon Ducks DE Jalen Jelks

NFL scout and a draft expert evaluate Oregon Ducks DE Jalen Jelks

The NFL Scouting Combine is in full swing at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind, where four Oregon Ducks will be working out for NFL Scouts. 

Taking the field Saturday will be wide receiver Dillon Mitchell. Hitting the field on Sunday will be defensive end Jalen Jelks and linebacker Justin Hollins. Cornerback Ugo Amadi works out on Monday. 

Here is the second installment in a series of four individual breakdowns of each former UO player by an NFL Scout and draft analyst Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com. The NFL Draft (April 25-27): 

PLAYER: Jalen Jelks, defensive end, 6-foot-6, 245-pounds. Led Pac-12 defensive linemen with 57 tackles. Had 29 1/2 tackles for loss and 15 sacks for his career at Oregon.

[ALSO READ: Jalen Jelks: Splash or slip at the NFL Combine]

NFL Scout says: "Depending on athletic ability, he could maybe go as high as late second to late third. That will probably be his window. Has good height and length. Disruptive. Plays with good motor and competitiveness. A little thin and light. Depending on how you use him, he could be susceptible to getting overwhelmed by teams running right at him. Showed a lot of versatility in different alignments. Pass rush guy, initially. If he adds bulk he could become an every-down guy." 

Preliminary round prediction: Second to third. 

Rob Rang (@RobRang) says: "Entering the year, I had Jelks ahead of Hollins. Jelks is bigger and broader. He has strong hands. But at the same time, like Hollins, he is a little bit of a tweener. I do not expect Jelks to show quite the same agility in terms of changing direction laterally that Hollins will. The week of practice that I saw (at the Senior Bowl), he flashed, but he certainly did not dominate...I think that Jelks is more in that fourth to fifth round range. He's a good player but I don't know if he is the stud that maybe his production and his name suggests. I'm a little bit higher on Hollins than I think some people are and a little bit lower on Jelks than some people are."

Preliminary round prediction: Fourth to fifth. 

Fentress says: "Full disclosure, I've loved me some Jalen Jelks and Justin Hollins since their redshirt freshmen seasons. Their potential has always stood out to me and here they are on the verge of entering the NFL. Jelks did well as a 3-4 defensive end in Oregon's system but he clearly fits best as a 4-3 end in the NFL unless a team tries him out at linebacker in a 3-4. But I question whether he has the coverage skills to be able to pull that off. He does need to add some weight, which he should. Remember that former UO defensive end Dion Jordan bulked up from 245 to 280 in the NFL and still maintained his pass rushing abilities. Jelks could do the same. I could see him getting up to 260 and becoming a legit edge rusher. The NFL is always starving for pass rushers and Jelks, if he doesn't become a star, should at least be adequate enough in that area to remain in the league for several years."

Preliminary round prediction: Third. 

Upcoming: Hollins (works out Sunday) and Amadi (works out Monday).

Posted: Dillon itchell (works out on Saturday).

Jalen Jelks: Splash or slip at the NFL Combine

Jalen Jelks: Splash or slip at the NFL Combine

Jalen Jelks is flying into the NFL Scouting Combine relatively under the radar. A versatile chess piece that lined up all over Oregon’s defensive front, Jelks’ NFL draft projection was higher after his junior season when he recorded 15.5 sacks. As an EDGE prospect unlike the rest of his draft class, Jelks is a prime candidate to watch his draft stock rise with a good performance.

[READ: Oregon expected to hire Andy Avalos as defensive coordinator]

His chance to make a splash at the NFL Draft combine begins on February 28. Here is a peek into what the week looks like for the EDGE defender and what the NFL’s top executives are saying about him.

Jelks is one of four Oregon Ducks (Dillon Mitchell, Justin Hollins, Ugo Amadi) and 38 Pac-12 Conference football athletes that join more than 300 of the best college football players in the NFL Scouting Combine held in Indianapolis, Indiana inside Lucas Oil Stadium from February 26 to March 4, 2019.

Jalen Jelks: Group 7, 8 or 9

Feb 28- March 2: Hospital pre-exam, x-rays, interviews, measurements, medical examinations, psychological testing, media, bench press

March 3: On-field workout (timing, stations and skill drills)

Projected Draft status: Jelks’ draft projection ranges from second round to fifth round

An average Senior Bowl performance caused Jelks’ draft projection to slip to the fourth or fifth round. The Pac-12 All-Conference first team selection impressed with a few highlights at Senior Bowl practices, and he finished the game with one tackle and two quarterback hits. Despite his exciting blend of power and quickness, Jelks’ general senior bowl evaluation tabbed him as a “raw prospect."

The 6-foot-6, 245-pound former Duck reportedly met with the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots during the Senior Bowl.

The Seahawks and Patriots weren’t the only teams who showed interest in Jelks. The same report says he also met with the Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texas, and the Tennessee Titans.

The Draft Network called Jelks “wicked quick.” The profile added that Jelks “uses length well in both run and pass game and has the upper body power to stiff-arm and bench offensive linemen.”

Where he must shine: Speed/agility drills and measurements

Jelks has the length and pass rush ability many GMs dream about, however he weighs under 250 pounds- too small to play inside and undersized for an outside linebacker. Some teams will struggle with where he fits from a position standpoint. Good speed and agility times will show off his quickness and athleticism, which he uses to his advantage exploding out of his stance to beat offensive linemen along the interior. 

If Jelks weighs in at more than 250 pounds, it’ll show that he can add strength and mass. His abnormally long limbs are also a gift in pursuit of quarterback and disrupting the run.

The senior Duck was a nightmare for Pac-12 offenses, leading all Pac-12 defensive linemen in 2018 with 57 tackles. The Phoenix, Ariz. native finished his career with 29.5 tackles for loss and 15 sacks.

Through his five seasons with Oregon, he experienced a Rose Bowl victory, a National Championship run, a 4-8 losing season, three different head coaches and three different defensive coordinators.

Jelks’ experience, speed, athleticism and length make him an intriguing 3-4 outside linebacker prospect for the passing-driven NFL. A strong Combine performance would swing major positive momentum towards his draft stock.



Dillon Mitchell, a sleeper in a loaded receiver group: 2019 NFL Draft

Ugo Amadi, a possible steal in the 2019 NFL Draft

3 Ducks you must watch in the Redbox Bowl

3 Ducks you must watch in the Redbox Bowl

The Redbox Bowl will feature a Duck debut, a triumphant return and the last hurrah.

It also marks the first time the Ducks are playing a bowl game in the Bay Area, facing Big Ten foe Michigan State, Monday at noon at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

On Talkin’ Ducks (video above) I divulge the three Ducks in particular I will have my eye on; senior defensive end Jalen Jelks, freshman left tackle Penei Sewell and sophomore transfer linebacker DJ Johnson.


-I expect Jelks to ball out in his last game in green and yellow 

-Sewell's return could be a huge difference maker, considering MSU has the best rush defense in the country

-Johnson's debut will be a sneak peek of Oregon’s future at linebacker

Oregon football's best recruiting weapon: Mario Cristobal's authenticity

Oregon football's best recruiting weapon: Mario Cristobal's authenticity

Oregon coach Mario Cristobal’s middle name might as well be “genuine”... it's how his team refers to him over and over again.

Cristobal came to Oregon in 2016 with a reputation as one of the top recruiters in the country, an instrumental piece to Alabama hauling in top prospects year after year. Oregon promoted Cristobal in 2017 to head coach with large recruiting expectations… and the 2015 National Recruiter of the Year has delivered.

UO has landed the program's highest-rated recruit in program history and highest-rated class ever AFTER a predictable 8-4 season, finishing 4th in the Pac-12 North, and winding at the Redbox Bowl… How?

Yes, Oregon is considered to be Nike University and has been for the last decade. Certainly, high schoolers love the Oregon Football brand and its facilities, but it’s Cristobal’s honest and welcoming approach that has made the difference.

Senior defensive end and first team All-Pac-12 selection Jalen Jelks has three head coaches during his time at Oregon. He recounts why Cristobal is special.

“He will text you in the middle of the day, ‘Hey how is it going? What’s your class schedule like?’ and then he will pop by and see you,” Jelks said. “Little stuff like that shows the kind of person he is and how much he really cares about you… He’s just a real genuine guy.”

While many draft-eligible players are deciding to forgo bowl games to focus on the 2019 NFL Draft, not only does Jelks want to play as a Duck one last time on December 31, he wishes he could return for another season under Cristobal.

Sophomore nose tackle Jordon Scott agreed that one of the biggest reasons recruits gravitate towards Cristobal is how much he cares about his players’ well-being off the field. Scott, who has started 22 consecutive games, told a story about the week leading up to Oregon’s upset victory over rival Washington.

“I had gotten a real bad stinger in practice and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play because I couldn’t really life my arm up,” Scott said.  “(Cristobal) texted me, ‘Don’t worry about it. You’ll be fine’. I think that’s the biggest thing about him, he’s genuine and he knows that little things like that can really help us mentally.”

The Ducks expect their commitments to put ink to paper on during early signing period, which begins Wednesday. Oregon has never finished with a class ranked in the top 10 of the 247Sports team rankings. Currently, the Ducks have 20 commitments that have bought into Cristobal’s vision and shaped the No. 5 ranked 2019 class.

The top-rated high school player in the country, defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, is proof that Cristobal and his staff can compete against the top programs in the country. Thibodeaux passed over Alabama, Florida and Florida State for Cristobal, the coach that Thibodeaux’s mom liked.

“Mario Cristobal is a great guy, my mom loves him, and he’s a God-fearing man,” Thibodeaux said during his selection. “He can take my game to the next level.”

The five-star recruit also said Cristobal talked to him about more than just football, expressing an enthusiasm in his other interests, which include journalism.

Mario “genuine” Cristobal, has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

Jordon Scott: Oregon's secret to stuffing Stanford

Jordon Scott: Oregon's secret to stuffing Stanford

Oregon’s starting nose tackle Jordon Scott could be a future president of the United States. At least, that’s what coach Mario Cristobal said he “would most likely be”.

"Does he get my vote? Oh, yeah," Cristobal said. 

Scott’s big personality and high football IQ are crucial to Oregon’s front seven. The sophomore lightens up stuffy meeting rooms and his teammates gravitate toward and replicate his humble yet hungry attitude.

Even more essential than Scott’s personality, is his ability to defend the middle and control the A-gaps, the space between the center and either guard. Cristobal says Scott’s combination of size and speed make him a perfect fit for Oregon's 3-4 defense. Linebacker Troy Dye appreciates Scott’s consistent play that he considers the foundation of the Duck defense.

“You can’t even put into words what he does for our defense,” Dye said. “He’s probably the most integral part of our defense because it all starts up front and it all starts in the middle.”

Scott is going to have to continue his work in the trenches this Saturday against No. 7 Stanford and Heisman-Trophy runner up Bryce Love.  Love is an offensive weapon with quick change of pace and explosive speed, at any moment he can burst through a hole and take it the distance.

So far this season, Scott’s hard work has been evident in how his teammates have shined. He can hold down a double or triple team, freeing up Jalen Jelks and Justin Hollins to put up impressive numbers. The duo has combined for 9.5 tackles for loss with 5.5 sacks through three games.

“I think he's undervalued in the passing game. You don’t hear his name much, but he creates so much push in the pocket that it prevents the quarterback from stepping up and allows the edge rushers to get there,” Cristobal said.

While Scott has proven invaluable to the Ducks’ front seven, the stat sheet doesn’t accurately show his domination of the middle. That may change this week, as Scott has been putting in extra practice time to work on his pass rush moves. Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello could have number 34 barreling his direction. 

[Five reasons why Oregon vs. Stanford is worth the hype]

Scott came to the Oregon football program from Largo, Fla., weighing in at 370 pounds. He shed 40 pounds and became a Freshman All-American. His progression from year one to year two makes defensive line coach Joe Salava’e grin from ear to ear.

“He’s a big body that can move and cover short distance bursts, and can cover sideline to sideline,” said Salava’e. “For a big guy, that size moving that fast, that’s a tremendous attribute to have.”

Whether his stat line jumps off the page or not, Scott is confident heading into Saturday.

“Right now, our front seven versus their front seven… I like our guys,” Scott said.

His own guys like him, too. Jelks, who rooms with Scott on the road, says his teammate is a “goofball” that constantly makes him laugh. Jelks spending so much time on the road with Scott begs the question, does he snore?

“No," Jelks said before calling out former UO defensive lineman DeForest Buckner.  “I roommed with De-Fo before. He is the biggest snorer ever. (Scott) does not snore so I can sleep.”

Just another way Scott is helping the Oregon defense.

Five reasons why Oregon vs. Stanford is worth the hype

Five reasons why Oregon vs. Stanford is worth the hype

The undefeated No. 20 Oregon Ducks get the opportunity to upset No. 7 Stanford at home in front of the nation, in prime time (5 p.m. on ABC). The winner will take the early lead in the race for the Pac-12 North Division, be the front-runner for Pac-12 champion and announce its presence as a college football playoff contender.

Here are 5 reasons why this game is worth the hype:

1. Heisman Trophy hopefuls and Sunday’s potential stars:

This match-up is basically an NFL scout’s dream. Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert and Stanford running back Bryce Love are both potential first round NFL draft selections. Saturday is a chance for either (or both?) to put themselves on the top of draft boards and forefront of Heisman Trophy talk. Who will seize it?

Love is a 2017 Heisman Trophy runner-up. An offensive weapon with quick change of pace and explosive speed, at any moment he can burst through a hole and take it the distance. The senior sat out last week with an undisclosed injury, but will return against Oregon. Against the Ducks in 2017, Love reached the 100-yard rushing mark in less than five minutes (ouch!), and finished with 147 yards on 17 carries before leaving the game early in the third quarter.

Love isn’t the only Heisman Trophy hopeful throwing up statistics. Oregon is averaging 42.9 points per game in quarterback Justin Herbert’s 18 career starts.  He is tied for second in the nation with 12 touchdown passes in 2018. Through his first 19 games, Herbert’s 4,450 career-passing yards are the most all-time for an Oregon quarterback. Yes, even more than Marcus Mariota, who had 4,401 yards through 19 games.

It’s not just Herbert and Love that could shine on Sundays, eight of the top-100 NFL prospects will be on the field this Saturday. Jalen Jelks is left off of CBS’s list but is ranked as the 21st best prospect by NFL.com.


2. Oregon and Stanford; It’s like looking in the mirror...?

Oregon and Stanford’s star players have more in common than you might think. Besides being potential first-round draft picks, Herbert and Love both are biology majors that aspire to be doctors. In fact, Love decided to forgo the 2018 NFL Draft in part to finish his undergraduate degree so that when his NFL career is over he can made a quick transition to medical school.

Both teams want to control the line of scrimmage. Stanford coach David Shaw’s physical approach has proved successful, his career record for the Cardinal is 76-22. Two weeks ago the Cardinal sacked USC quarterback JT Daniels four times. 

Oregon coach Mario Cristobal’s smash-mouth approach emphasized weight-room gains for linemen and the entire Ducks team; including running back Tony Brooks-James(15 lbs) and Herbert (20 lbs).

(Side note- Oregon’s offensive line must win in the trenches to give Herbert a chance against a Cardinal defense that has allowed a nation’s best average of only 7.7 points per game.)

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.

“We’re just really focused on Stanford and playing a great game,” linebacker Troy Dye said. “Our goal is to take the Pac and win the Pac-12, so we just have to go out there and start off on a great foot and get a win.”


3.  Eugene will be rockin’

I can guarantee one thing for Saturday. Autzen Stadium is going to bring it. Ducks fans have been waiting a long time for a match-up like this.

It’s perfectly timed with the University of Oregon's academic calendar. Classes begin next week, bringing students to Eugene (and Autzen's student section) just in time for this weekend's game.

Saturday will mark the 10th time the Ducks have hosted ESPN’s College Game Day. It'll also be the first time since September of 2014, against Michigan State, Oregon has been highlighted as the national game of the week. The show will air from 6-9 a.m. on ESPN, and will be staged in the grass area of Oregon's memorial quad. More info here.

Oregon is a 2-point underdog and it’s a night game. That is a combination for a rowdy Autzen Stadium, and Cristobal wants nothing less.

"It's very welcome. It's exciting," said Cristobal. "Autzen is unmatched as it is, now throw in the extra ingredient of GameDay, ABC, and everything that goes with it. We expect, we want, and we need Autzen to be Autzen at its finest. We expect that to happen."


4. A brief history lesson to boil your blood

Over the last decade, Oregon and Stanford are 4-4.  The teams have rich history of spoiling the other’s seasons.

It started in 2009 when unranked Stanford and freshman quarterback Andrew Luck uprooted the then-No. 7 Oregon’s first season under head coach Chip Kelly, handing the Ducks their only loss in conference play.  

The next season, revenge was sweet for the Ducks. 2010 was the year Oregon blasted the entire conference en route to the national championship game.

In 2011, the Cardinal were riding a 17-game home winning streak and Luck was a Heisman front runner. No. 6 Oregon handed undefeated No. 3 Stanford its first loss on the season and ending its BCS Championship Game hopes.

2012, not so sweet for Oregon. David Shaw got his first win in the series when No. 14 Stanford shut Autzen Stadium down in overtime with a 17-14 victory over the undefeated No. 1 Ducks.

For the second-straight year, in 2013, Oregon was undefeated heading into the Stanford game. Duck quarterback Marcus Mariota was limited due to a knee injury. The Ducks lost 20-26, putting Stanford into the Rose Bowl for the second season in a row.

In 2014, Mariota was healthy and No. 5 Oregon smoked Stanford 45-16 on their way to the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Oregon’s last victory over Stanford came in 2015 when the unranked Ducks upset No. 7 Stanford 38-36 at Stanford Stadium, keeping the Cardinal out of the Playoff.

The Cardinal has dominated in the last two matchups.

Stanford pummeled Mark Helfrich’s final Oregon team 52-27 during the 2016 meeting at Autzen.

Last season, Stanford destroyed Oregon under Willie Taggart, 49-7, in a game in which the Ducks were without Herbert and with plenty of penalties (nine for 109 yards).



5. Future

We are barely midway through September but the first game under the lights for Oregon could have some major future implications for the Ducks.

A win would give the Ducks a chance to make a run at the Pac-12 North title, and legitimize the idea that Oregon is back as one of the Pac-12's best teams. Not to mention, upsetting Stanford (in Nike swag) would play well on the recruiting trail.

“You need to meet a team like this head-on,” Cristobal said. “You have to play your best football.”

Among the prospects in Eugene on Saturday will be 5-star quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, who announced his visit on Twitter.

Uiagalelei is the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the 2020 class, according to 247sports.  

There is a lot on the line, it’s show time for Oregon.