Oregon Ducks

Best and Worst from Oregon vs. Stanford

Best and Worst from Oregon vs. Stanford

Is your brain still reeling from Oregon’s almost upset over No. 7 Stanford turned overtime heartbreaking loss? The No. 19 Ducks’ defeat yielded plenty to be happy and sad about.

Before moving on to Oregon’s (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) next game (another Top 25 matchup vs. the undefeated No. 24 Cal Bears in Berkeley, Calif.) did the good outweigh the bad against Stanford? You decide.

 

THE BEST:

Rising in Top 25: Did you think Oregon would drop in the AP Top 25 poll with its loss to Stanford? Think again. Oregon’s overall performance impressed voters and the Ducks moved up from No. 20 to No. 19 in the most recent poll.

Dillon Mitchell makes a statement: Mitchell had one of the best games in the history of the Oregon program. His career-high 239 receiving yards and 14 catches are the 2nd most in UO history. The connection between him and quarterback Justin Herbert was unstoppable; more than half of Herbert’s 26 completions went to Mitchell.

"I feel I can be one of the best receivers in the country," Mitchell said. "I'm not satisfied with my play, most definitely. I'm looking to come back much harder next week."

Healthy Ducks: Oregon did not sustain any serious injuries in the game against Stanford.

All aboard the Herbert for Heisman train: Herbert put on a show, his Heisman Trophy campaign was trending on Twitter, and he was a perfect 7-7 in the first quarter.

“The first NFL draft pick,” Mitchell said after one of Herbert’s best performances of his career. “That’s basically the only way I can say it. He’s going to come out there and do what he does every night.”

The junior completed 92.6 of his throws in regulation, passed for 346 yards and a touchdown, and rushed for 35 net yards against a Stanford defense that was allowing 7.7 points per game.

Hello, Oregon football 2.0: A once “speedy” team, Oregon coach Cristobal has changed UO’s style of football to be disciplined and physical. Winning the battle in the trenches is priority number one and Oregon did that versus the powerful Cardinal. 

The Ducks held 2017 Heisman Trophy runner-up Bryce Love to 89 yards on 19 carries. Oregon’s defense is allowing just 75.5 rushing yards per game through four weeks of the season, a 4th best in the nation.

Oregon finished with 178 yards rushing and held Stanford to 71 net rushing yards.

[That isn't a consolation prize but it does give reason to be optimistic that the Ducks physicality is helping close the gap on the top teams in the conference.]

What’s a field goal? The Ducks special teams was very dependable. After missing the first three games due to injury, sophomore Adam Stack made his debut as placekicker and made a 38-yard field goal that put Oregon up 24-7 just before halftime. Stack was the Ducks' punter as a true freshman in 2017.

 

THE WORST:

A myriad of mistakes that lead to defeat: It started with Oregon’s chance to take a 31-7 lead. With a first-and-goal at the 1, running back Cyrus Habibi-Likio fumbled for a 9-yard loss.  

Then, center Jake Hanson’s high snap to Herbert became a 89-yard Stanford touchdown.

Two yards and 51 seconds away from victory, redshirt freshman running back CJ Verdell (who led the team with 115 yards rushing and a touchdown) fumbled the ball, leading to a tying field goal.

Herbert’s nearly flawless game ended with an interception in the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 10 in overtime, sealing the victory for Stanford.

Taj Griffin: Senior running back Taj Griffin, buried on the Ducks' depth chart, tweeted after the loss to Stanford that he is looking to leave the program

Griffin has six carries for 31 yards and two receptions for 89 yards for the 3-1 Ducks. He entered the season wtih 848 career rushing yards. 

Ducks move up in AP poll with OT loss to Stanford

Ducks move up in AP poll with OT loss to Stanford

The Ducks (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) moved up from No. 20 to No. 19 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll, after losing to Stanford in overtime. The Cardinal remains at No. 7. 

For almost the entire game, it looked like Oregon would upset Stanford but the Ducks lost in heartbreaking fashion in overtime, 38-31.

[After losing to Stanford, here is a reason to be optimistic that the Ducks physicality is helping close the gap on the top teams in the conference.]

Also very notable, the undfeated Cal Bears snuck into the Top 25 at No. 24. Oregon plays at Berkeley on Saturday. 

The only other Pac-12 team in the AP Top 25 is No. 11 Washington. 

 

Oregon RB Taj Griffin tweets that he is looking to leave

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USA Today

Oregon RB Taj Griffin tweets that he is looking to leave

Senior running back Taj Griffin, buried on the Ducks' depth chart, tweeted tonight following No. 20 Oregon's 38-31 overtime loss to No. 7 Stanford, that he is looking to leave the program. 

Griffin has six carries for 31 yards and two receptions for 89 yards for the 3-1 Ducks. He entered the season wtih 848 career rushing yards. 

 

 

 

Ducks can't allow meltdown against Stanford to destroy season

Ducks can't allow meltdown against Stanford to destroy season

EUGENE - The door to Oregon's locker room slammed shut while a player let lose an F-bomb loud enough to be heard throughout the third floor of the Hattfield-Dowlin Complex. 

Oregon had just lost a game that it won in every way but on the scoreboard.  

It read: 38-31, Stanford, in overtime. But it didn't tell the entire tale.

The Ducks (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) let this one slip away in mind-numbing fashion. A potential game-cementing touchdown erased by a pylon rule few understood. There was a bad snap that became an 89-yard touchdown for Stanford. A late fumble led to a tying field goal. A tipped pass for a touchdown in overtime won the game for Stanford.

It's the type of loss that could demoralize a team and send it spiraling into the abyss. Avoiding that is the first major challenge of new coach Mario Cristobal's tenure. 

"You've got to get right back on it and shake it off," Cristobal said. "Shake it off fast. You can't let this thing beat you twice."

Next up is a 3-0 California team that had this weekend off and certainly watched what transpired on national television. If you're Cal, you should be worried. The Ducks looked formidable against a top 10 team. Oregon met head on with a seemingly immovable object in No. 7 Stanford's defense and bullied the Cardinal all over the field Saturday night while the defense rocked one of the most consistently devastating rushing attacks of the past 10 years. Quarterback Justin Herbert looked like a future first-round NFL Draft pick. The front seven appeared to be the best in the Pac-12 Conference. Wide receiver Dillon Mitchell put on one of the best pass catching shows in Autzen Stadium with 14 receptions for 239 yards. 

Oregon led 24-7 in the third quarter with the ball deep in Stanford's territory. From that point on, Oregon seemingly won the game several times but ultimately lost it and a chance to make a national statement. 

So where do the Ducks go from here? That's up to them. This is a relatively young team with just six senior starters. They must lead the team back to a better place mentally, or this loss to lead to another at Cal with No. 10 Washington visiting Autzen on Oct. 13. Just like that, Oregon could be 3-3 and 0-3 in conference if the Ducks don't find a way to put this loss behind them. 

Oregon didn't simply lose a game. It most likely lost its best shot at winning the North Division and thus the Pac-12

"That to me is the biggest part that you have to address and you have to make sure you do your best work at as a coach," Cristobal said. "It could be very difficult and devastating for a lot. I know certainly that we all feel it. But, like we talked about in there, there is nobody feeling sorry for us on the other side of the conference and the other side over there in California. We are going to have to immediately get back to work at this."

The faces of each player that exited the locker room on their way down stairs to see family expressed sadness, frustration anger.

"We were up 24-7," one player mumbled to another, who just shook, his head. 

In the interview room, solemn faces put forth a positive spin. A sense that this team is equipped to recover within 24 hours. 

"Tomorrow's practice will show the true leaders of the team and the core of the team will come together," sophomore defensive lineman Jordon Scott said. "And once we go through meetings and watch the film we're going to flush it as a team and that's when we'll start preparing for Cal. The rebound is not going to be easy but by the end of the day tomorrow, everybody is going to be focused on Cal and this will be behind us."

That's the correct mentality. It's up to Cristobal to make sure the team follows through. 

"I feel like we have an outstanding team that knows how to rebound," Mitchell said. "We've got guys that can do the job. So that's not even a question. I already know everybody is going to come to work tomorrow and start preparing for Cal."

Despite loss, "Oregon football 2.0" has arrived

Despite loss, "Oregon football 2.0" has arrived

EUGENE - The nation turned to Eugene Saturday night for a battle of two Pac-12 teams with conference title aspirations.

The winner presumed to be the favorite to compete with Washington to win the North Division and a possible college football playoff contender.

For almost the entire game, it looks like that team would be the Ducks but No. 20 Oregon lost in heartbreaking fashion to No. 7 Stanford in overtime, 38-31. In a game where two fumbles and a strange pylon rule changed everything, one thing is clear: Oregon Football 2.0 has arrived. 

What is Oregon Football 2.0?

The Ducks (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) showed glimpses tonight. It started with gains in the weight room in the offseason, led by strength and conditioning coach Aaron Feld who is so full of energy, his handlebar mustache may emit electricity. The linemen beefed up, quarterback Justin Herbert added 20 pounds, and winning the battle in the trenches became priority number one. A team once known for it's speed, changed its style of football to be disciplined and physical.
Did Oregon coach Mario Cristobal feel the Ducks gave a good showing of his smash mouth approach against the Cardinal?

"In a lot of ways we did,” said Cristobal. “At the line of scrimmage, particularly in the first half and then moments in the fourth quarter, we did a really nice job up front on both sides of the ball.”

To say Oregon has improved its rushing defense would be an understatement.

Last season Stanford squashed Oregon, 49-7. In that game, Heisman Trophy runnerup Bryce Love rushed for over 100 yards in the first five minutes. The Cardinal rushed for 248 yards and averaged six yards per carry. In short, the Ducks' defense was not a factor.

Fast forward a year and that was not the case on Saturday. The Ducks' defense held Love to 89 rushing yards and the team to net rushing yards of 71 after factoring in 19 total yards of sacks.

In 2017, the Cardinal rushed for an average of six yards per carry against Oregon, in 2018 the Ducks held them to three yards per carry.

That isn't a consolation prize but it does give reason to be optimistic that the Ducks physicality is helping close the gap on the top teams in the conference.

“Yea, I think today was a really good test of physicality and I think we won up front,” said left guard Shane Lemieux. “Obviously it wasn’t enough to win the game but I think we did a really good job of time of possession.”

It wasn't surprising the Ducks controlled the line of scrimmage in their three non-conference games. But Stanford and coach David Shaw’s physical approach is a different animal. Before coming to Autzen Stadium, the Cardinal defense allowed an average of 7.7 points per game, a nation’s best. 

The Ducks scored 31 points and their 178 rushing yards topped Stanford’s 71 rushing yards.

Herbert put on a show, his Heisman Trophy campaign was trending on Twitter, and he was a perfect 7-7 in the first quarter. He finished with 346 passing yards, completing 26 of 33, with one interception.

Of his 26 completions, 14 went to junior wide receiver Dillon Mitchell. Mitchell had one of the best games in the history of the Oregon program. His career-high 239 receiving yards and 14 catches are the 2nd most in UO history.
A spectacular night from Mitchell was not enough for the Ducks to upset the Cardinal.
As the schedule has it, Oregon will have another shot at a signature win in a few weeks against Washington at home. All is not lost for the Ducks, as they put on a good showing against the seventh best team in the nation.
“This conference is wide open, and you've got to get back on it right way,” said Cristobal. “You’ve got to shake it off, and shake if off fast. We ended up giving it up today, and you can’t let that beat you next week.”
Next Saturday is Oregon’s first road test at California (3-0). The Bears are undefeated and snuck into the latest Top 25 poll at No. 24. Oregon moved up from No. 20 to No. 19, despite the loss to Stanford. It'll be another Top 25 showdown for the Ducks at Berkeley. 

Will Marcus Mariota be ready to start on Sunday?

Will Marcus Mariota be ready to start on Sunday?

Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota is reportedly on the mend and could play this Sunday at Jacksonville after missing last weekend's win over Houston.  

According to multiple reports, Mariota's workload at practice has increased and the numbness in his right hand that prevented him from gripping the football and playing against the Texans has subsided. Mariota injured his right elbow causing the numbness during the team's loss to Miami in the season opener. The former Oregon quarterback told reporters on Wednesday that some numbness remains and he still feels weakness in his hand.

According to coach Mike Vrabel, his starting quarterback took more than half of the reps in practice on Thursday, a good sign that he could start on Sunday instead of backup Blain Gabbert.

“I felt like he threw the ball better today, so that is positive," Titans coach Mike Vrabel told reporters. "It is moving in the right direction.”

 

The Oregon Duck Mascot asks Bri a question

The Oregon Duck Mascot asks Bri a question

Every week I answer five of your best questions on Twitter and Instagram. Can No. 20 Oregon stop No. 7 Stanford and Bryce Love? Which team has the most to lose on Saturday? Which recruits will be on the sidelines? Also, the Oregon Duck mascot submits a question about spider 2 y banana. 

Question from Jake on Twitter: Can we stop Bryce Love and how? He ran for 147 yards and two touchdowns against us last season.

Answer: There is no doubt that Bryce Love is an offensive weapon. The Heisman Trophy runner-up reached the 100-yard rushing mark in less than five minutes against the Ducks in 2017. Containing him, while not getting burned through the air, will be a challenge for Oregon that starts in the middle, up front. It starts with sophomore nose tackle Jordon Scott. If Scott can defend the A-gaps and handle a few Cardinals, that frees Jalen Jelks, Justin Hollins and Troy Dye (among others) to contain Love.

So far this season, Oregon’s defense is among the nation’s best in stopping the run. Jelks and Hollins are a dangerous duo, combining for 9.5 tackles for loss with 5.5 sacks through three games.

Question from Mark on Twitter: Which team has more to lose on Saturday?

Answer: The correct answer here is both. 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.

Question from Thurios on Twitter: Given Coach Cristobal's confidence in Justin Herbert, how much freedom does Herbert have to audible based on shifting defensive looks?

Answer: A lot. The offense relies heavily on Herbert’s advanced knowledge of protections and the running game. Cristobal has repeatedly called Herbert a “field general” who understands the run game like a coordinator does. Cristobal has prepped Herbert to able to quickly get the offense into the right play, based on shifting defensive looks.

Question from The Oregon Duck (yes, the official mascot) on Instagram: Who is the primary receiver in spider 2 y banana?

Answer: Wow, who knew the Duck has such a high football IQ when it comes to play calling?! Is the Duck calling plays?!

The fullback is the primary target in Spider 2 Y Banana (craziest name ever) and it’s Jon Gruden’s favorite play. He actually taught it to former Duck Marcus Mariota on Gruden’s QB camp, check it out! The breakdown of the play is; The quarterback fakes the hand off and has two options: dump it off to the fullback rolling out in the flat or hit the tight end running a post route downfield.

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

Question from NBCSNorthwest on Twitter: What implications will Saturday's game have on the Oregon football program?

Answer: Besides putting Oregon in position to run the North Division, this game has major recruiting implications. 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.

[Uniform update: All eyes on the "traditional" Ducks]

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.

No 20. Oregon's running game worst since 2006 with No. 7 Stanford looming

No 20. Oregon's running game worst since 2006 with No. 7 Stanford looming

No. 20 Oregon is heading into its biggest game in years on Saturday against No. 7 Stanford with a huge red flag waiving above Autzen Stadium. 

The Ducks' running game thus far, while facing a very weak non-conference schedule, is the worst that the program has produced since 2005 when UO adopted the no-huddle spread offense. This is not where Oregon (3-0) wants to be with the Cardinal up next. We've all seen what Stanford's defenses of the past did to some of the best Oregon running teams ever. Imagine what the Cardinal (3-0, 1-0 Pac-12) could do to this current Ducks' rushing attack if they do not make a huge turnaround on Saturday.

Here are the statistical facts:

  • Oregon's 214 yards rushing per game leads the Pac-12 but it is the least amount of rushing production UO has averaged since 2006 when the Ducks averaged 181.8 yards per game. However, that total came on 36.3 attempts per game at 5.0 yards per carry against an entire schedule. This year's 214 average has been produced on 46 carries per game at 4.7 yards per carry against the likes of Bowling Green, Portland State and San Jose State. 
  • Oregon's showing on the ground in games against mid-major or FCS programs is the program's worst since 2009. From 2010 through 2017, Oregon went 14-0 against such teams while averaging 354.7 yards per game at 7.2 yards per carry. 
  • Oregon’s 134 yards rushing against San Jose State is the program’s worst performance against such competition since the 2009 season opener at Boise State when the Ducks lost 19-8 and rushed for just 31 net yards. Beyond that debacle in Chip Kelly’s first game, you have to go back to 2002 to find a worse rushing performance against a mid-major or FCS program when Oregon rushed for 108 yards in a 28-24 win over Fresno State.
  • Oregon's 212 yards against Bowling Green on 42 carries (5.0 per) is the second lowest showing since Boise State in 2009. 
  • The previous low since 2010 came in 2016 when the Ducks rushed for 251 on 37 carries at 6.7 per carry against UC Davis. The lowest yards per carry during that stretch came against Arkansas State in 2012 when the Ducks averaged 5.21 on 57 carries for 297 yards.

 

As for the 2009 Oregon team, Kelly righted that ship and the team average 231 rushing yards per game while cranking up production in conference play. The Ducks clearly could do the same. But out the gate, Oregon is not in the same place that it was in terms of running the football in recent years. Meanwhile, Stanford is every bit as formidable against the run. 

Stanford has allowed just 7.7 points and 104.7 rushing yards per game. When Stanford is playing elite defense it has given Oregon's spread offense fits. The Cardinal shut down UO in 2012 and 2013 with national title berths on the line, and UO has Marcus Mariota at quarterback. 

This Oregon team is not on the same level as Mariota's Ducks teams. But, Stanford's defense appears to be as dominant as it has ever been. 

However, a good sign for Oregon is that during last year's 49-7 loss at Stanford, the Ducks managed to rush for 286 yards on 6.4 per carry. That performance, of course, involved running back Royce Freeman rushing for 141 yards. With Freeman now in the NFL, UO will be leaning on a group of backs with redshirt senior Tony Brooks-James and redshirt freshman C.J. Verdell.

"All of those guys have shown that they can help us win," UO coach Mario Cristobal said. "We're making this week very competitive. "

Not having a true lead running back could prove problematic in this type game. UO needs that one guy it can rely on to do all of the little things that a true lead back does, and that includes being a threat on every down to not only break a long run, but get two or three years when seemingly nothing at all is there. 

Against Stanford, those short runs could prove to be the difference between quarterback Justin Herbert routinely getting sacked on third down and long, or producing a high rate of success on third and short situations. 

Stanford's defense is a completely different animal than what Oregon has seen so far this season. Cristobal said the Cardinal not only plays sound schematic football, the players are very disruptive. The defensive linemen are big and physical. The linebackers are extremely sound tacklers. They won't easily get juked out in space and certainly are not going to get run over by UO's smallish group of running backs. 

On the back end, Stanford has usually deploys large defense backs that are very physical. No difference this season, Cristobal said. They could give Oregon's receivers some problems with their physicality. 

Cristobal has preached becoming more physical at the line of scrimmage. The offseason program and practices are designed to improve the team in that area so it can meet head on with a team such as Stanford.

Of course, we heard all of that last year and even the final two years under former offensive line coach Steve Greatwood during the Mark Helfrich era. 

Now it's time for this "new," more physical approach to prove itself and actually become more productive. 

"It has to," Cristobal said. 

If not, Stanford will be proudly waiving its Cardinal flag in Autzen Stadium. 

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.