Stanford Cardinal

Opportunity lost! How the Beavers gave away a game to Stanford

Opportunity lost! How the Beavers gave away a game to Stanford

CORVALLIS – For a team hungry for a home Pac-12 win, on a night when one of its greatest coaches was on hand and several of its outstanding players from the past were there, the Oregon State Beavers missed a golden opportunity to pull off an upset of Stanford.

So many mistakes. All over the place. And it cost OSU a 31-28 loss in which it out-rushed and out-passed the Cardinal.

Mistakes? Well, one of the biggest ones came in the fourth quarter with Oregon State in the midst of a comeback from three touchdowns behind. The Cardinal had to settle for a 46-yard field goal, which Jet Toner made. That would have worked out OK for the Beavers as the game turned out. But OSU was called for a personal foul on the kick, as Hamilcar Rashed Jr. was flagged for jumping on the back of a player in an effort to block the kick.

Stanford elected to take the three points off the board, accept the penalty and then scored two plays later. Three points subtracted, seven points added and a net gain of four points. And, of course, the Cardinal won by three.

But there were plenty of other miscues, too.

The Beavers had seven penalties for 56 yards and it seemed as if they all came at crucial times. They also allowed Stanford to convert several third-and-long attempts, including three on the same drive in the first half.

“Details,” Coach Jonathan Smith said afterwards. “We have to take care of those things.”

If you would have told Smith prior to the game that his team would roll up 64 more net rushing yards than Stanford and outpass them 337-253, I’m pretty sure he’d have believed he was going to win the game.

And the Beavers could have.

Jake Luton hit 27 of his 39 passes for 337 yards and a touchdown and Isaiah Hodgins caught 10 of them for 162 yards, including a beauty in the end zone.

The Beavers scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter and the last one gave them a 28-28 tie with 1:55 to play and Stanford with no timeouts left.

But what’s the worst possible thing that can happen in that situation?

Correct, a long kickoff return. Connor Wedington returned the ensuing kick 43 yards to midfield and Stanford was in business.

Davis Mills, who had a solid game at quarterback in place of injured starter K.J. Costello, completed an 18-yard pass on first down and then scrambled for 16 yards one play later to set up Toner’s game-winning field goal – a 39-yarder with just a second showing on the clock.

OSU suffered through a miserable first half that saw them looking up at a 21-0 deficit.

“It’s closer but not where we want to be,” Smith said of the final verdict. “It wasn’t enough. Obviously, very disappointing.”

Former Beaver head coach Dennis Erickson, whom Oregon State honored during the game for his induction into the college football Hall of Fame, did his share of turning programs around in his long career, and he is convinced it's going to happen at Oregon State.

“They hired the right guy,” Erickson said before the game. “But people have to understand it takes time.”

Oregon State vs Stanford: 10 Things to Know

Oregon State vs Stanford: 10 Things to Know

Coming off a bye, the Oregon State Beavers (1-2, 0-0 Pac-12 play) open their conference schedule against the Stanford Cardinal (1-3, 0-1 Pac-12) at Reser Stadium at 4 p.m. (PT). 

The Cardinal have struggled so far this season but are better than their record indicates given three consecutive losses to ranked opponents. Can the Beavers take advantage of the Cardinal’s slump and open Pac-12 play with a victory? We’re optimistic. But before kickoff you’ll need to prepare for the game.

Here are 10 facts to get you ready for the contest!

  1. The game kicks off at 4 p.m. on Pac-12 Network with Roxy Bernstein, Anthony Herron, and Jill Savage on the call. 

  2. At 1-3, Stanford is off to their worst start to a season since 2007, the first year under Jim Harbaugh as the Cardinal head coach. In their 5th game that season, the Cardinal defeated #2 USC despite being 41-point underdogs. The Cardinal are 4-point favorites over the Beavers on Saturday.

  3. RB Jermar Jefferson is 15th in the OSU record book with 1,650 rushing yards and Artavis Pierce is 20th with 1,476 yards. Pierce is currently on OSU career record pace for rushing yards per attempt at 6.0; Jefferson is tied for second at 5.8. In Jeffeerson’s absence, Pierce had 12 carries for 90 yards against Cal Poly. 

  4. WR Isaiah Hodgins leads the Pac-12 (8th nationally) for receiving yards per game at 115.7. Of his 23 receptions for the season, 19 were for either touchdowns or first downs. Pro Football Focus also grades Hodgins out as the top receiver in the Pac-12.

  5. Former head coach Dennis Erickson will be honored at the end of the first quarter for his upcoming induction into the College Football Hall of Fame in December in New York City. Erickson coached at OSU from 1999-2002 leading the program to new heights, including a 41-9 Fiesta Bowl victory over Notre Dame. He was honored last week at Washington State and will be next month at Miami.

  6. Head Coach Jonathan Smith had great success playing Stanford when he suited up for Oregon State. His 405 yard passing performance at Stanford in 1999 remains a school record. Smith also set the school record that stands today with a 97-yard touchdown pass to Chad Johnson at Reser Stadium the following year against Stanford.

  7. The offense has scored a touchdown on the first drive of every game this season. Isaiah Hodgins has two of these touchdowns, against Oklahoma State and Cal Poly respectively.  Against Hawai'i, Jermar Jefferson ran for a 4-yard touchdown to cap off the Beavers’ opening drive. 

  8. OSU co-leads the country for fewest turnovers (1). The Beavers are tied with Appalachian State, Boston College and Iowa. 

  9. The Beaver offensive line is rated second in the nation by Pro Football Focus for pass blocking efficiency. They have allowed only two QB sacks through three games; the best start to a season since the 2003 team gave up two sacks in as many contests.

  10. The Beaver defense has 24 tackles-for-loss this season through three games; nearly half the total for the entire season last year. That ranks 3rd in the Pac-12.

Oregon Duck defense suffocates Stanford but about that offense...

Oregon Duck defense suffocates Stanford but about that offense...

STANFORD, Calif. – A win is a win – at least that’s what most Ducks will think coming away from Oregon’s 21-6 triumph over Stanford late Saturday afternoon. I mean, the Cardinal have been a problem over the last several seasons, including last year when they stole a victory at Autzen.

Except in college football, that’s really not true – a win isn’t always enough. If you want a piece of postseason play or merely a high ranking in the polls at the end of the year, the whole season turns into a beauty contest.

You have to look good. Better than good, in fact. You better look real good – especially when on national television – if you want to pick up votes in the poll, which is critical to having any thought of a playoff berth.

And the Ducks, who managed only three touchdowns against a team that had allowed a combined 90 points in its two previous games, struggled on offense.

Not that the UO defense didn’t continue its stellar run. The Cardinal managed only 234 yards of total offense and was dominated by Oregon’s quick and hard-hitting defense, which hasn’t allowed a touchdown since the opening game of the season.

Oregon chose to run the ball 30 times in this game and netted just 61 yards. And it allowed four sacks. That doesn’t sound like an offensive line that the media touted as one of the best in the country prior to the season.

And while the running game wasn’t consistent all day, Oregon stayed conservative on offense. Quarterback Justin Herbert, with NFL scouts populating the press box, threw the ball only 24 times and completed 19 of them for 259 yards and all three touchdowns.

Just once, I’d like to see the Ducks open up the passing game and give this man about 45 attempts. And if that happened, you can bet the running game would come alive, too.

And OK, I had to ask Coach Mario Cristobal, why didn’t you throw the ball more often, given you seem to have one of the best quarterbacks in the country?

“We’d like to get as many points on the board as possible, so whatever is called – sometimes these are throw/run options,” Cristobal said. “The look, the leverage, the number of the box count, will determine where the ball goes. If I could guarantee 80 points by throwing the ball more, I certainly would. But we’re trying to move the ball, score points and get effective offense.”

OK.

The Ducks are still running a lot of what appears to be a read-option at times but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of reading there, as the ball was handed off every time Saturday by Herbert, rather than pulling it out and taking yards himself.

He admitted after the game that “I probably should have pulled it out a few times,” but he’s pretty comfortable with the backs carrying the ball. I get that – and I understand that the last thing the Ducks need is for Herbert to get hurt.

But if that’s the case, just forget the option – the Cardinal wasn’t honoring Herbert as the possible ball carrier very often, anyway – and just get another back behind the quarterback and go to more of a power running game.

Now don’t get me wrong – the Ducks dominated this game and seemed to have it locked up when they led 14-3 at the half. Not only was their defense suffocating Stanford but their punter, Blake Maimone, was spectacular. He booted the ball six times for an average of 45.7 yards. Those punts kept Stanford backed up in the shadow of its own end zone most of the day.

This one was not close – but it wasn’t impressive, either.

Oregon has a bye next week before squaring off with undefeated California.

Oregon Ducks fall five spots in Top 25 after loss to Auburn

Oregon Ducks fall five spots in Top 25 after loss to Auburn

The Oregon Ducks (0-1) fell from No. 11 to No. 16 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll, after losing to then-No. 16 Auburn at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. The Tigers moved up to No. 10.

Oregon also dropped five spots in the Amway Coaches Poll to No. 18. The time is now for Oregon to bounce back from the 27-21 season opening defeat. 

The Ducks are starting the season 0-1 for the first time since 2011. No, a week one loss does not mean the sky is falling on the 2019 Oregon football season, however, the defeat initiates an uphill fight as no team has ever rebounded from a week one loss to make the final field of four. Of course, the Pac-12 conference title is still wide open.

The Ducks will play three more teams ranked in the poll; road games against No. 14 Washington and No. 23 Stanford while hosting No. 22 Washington State.

Ranked in the Pac-12: 

Washington rolled to 47-14 win over Eastern Washington behind Jacob Eason’s four touchdowns. 

K.J. Costello threw a 2-yard touchdown pass before getting knocked out of the season opener on a late hit; Stanford went on to beat Northwestern, 17-7. 

Washington State dominated New Mexico State, 58-7. 

No. 13 Utah beat BYU, 30-12.

MORE DUCKS:

Mario Cristobal's ear-catching comments about Jevon Holland

5 changes to Oregon's week two depth chart, following the loss to Auburn

Ducks started and ended their playoff run on the same night

 

Blazers Pre-draft Workout: Late-bloomer KZ Okpala is looking to showcase his versatility

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USA Today Images

Blazers Pre-draft Workout: Late-bloomer KZ Okpala is looking to showcase his versatility

TUALATIN – The Portland Trail Blazers held their third pre-draft workout on Thursday morning at their practice facility. Portland’s fourth and final workout will take place this Sunday.

The Blazers hold the No. 25 pick in this year’s draft, to be held on Thursday, June 20.

Portland brought in six hopefuls on Wednesday, David Crisp (Washington), Matur Maker (Slovenian League), KZ Okpala (Stanford), Samir Sehic (Tulane/Vanderbilt), Jaylin Walker (Kent State), and Cameron Young (Quinnipiac).

Stanford forward KZ Okpala, whose full name is Chikezie Okpala, is the biggest standout from Wednesday’s group.

Okpala is projected to be a mid to late first round pick, which could mean he is available for the Blazers at No. 25. Okpala has been linked to the Nets and Jazz in several Mock Drafts.

At 6’9”, 215 pounds, Okpala is the definition of a ‘3 & D’ guy.

Okpala talked with the media after his workout, discussing what stood out to him about the workout with the Trail Blazers saying, “The energy. Everybody was playing extremely hard, we’re competing, that was the biggest thing.”

While attending Esperanza High School in Anaheim, California, Okpala only played the guard position despite his huge growth spurt. He even brought the ball up when he grew to 6’8”.

“It’s just a blessing, Okpala said. “Nothing more than a blessing. [I was] 5’10” coming in as a freshman [in high school] and now I’m 6’10” almost. I’ve got guard skills, that helps with my versatility for sure.”

 “Whatever position coach needs me to play, I can do it,” Okpala said. 

With his size he looks to be a lock for the modern NBA and that is what Okpala is looking to showcase.

“Versatility, that I can handle it for my size, get downhill, get to the middle, I have a quick first step, play-make, can shoot it, and then defensively I think that’s where I can come in on a team and make an impact right away just because I think I can really get after it, Okpala said. “I can guard 1 through 4. I’m just confident on the defensive end and the offensive end.”

During his sophomore year of college, Okpala earned 2018-19 All-Pac-12 First Team selection.

At Stanford, he averaged 16.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. He played in 29 games his sophomore year, while averaging 46.3% from the field, 67.1% from the free throw line, and 36.8% from three-point range in 32.7 minutes per game.

The sophomore forward spoke with the Blazers team physiologist during the NBA Combine last month, which may show that Portland has had some interest in the young fella.

Okpala has been very busy during the pre-draft workout process.

“I’m getting up there. I think [this] is my ninth. I think I have a couple more… I just take it one day at a time really,” Okpala said. “It’s been so exciting, every place I go, the atmosphere, just meeting all the staff and front offices it’s been a blessing."

The 20-year-old also said he grew up watching the Blazers backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

“What they did in the playoffs is amazing, Okpala said. “I know the culture out here is incredible.”

What's special about Justin Herbert and his preparation?

What's special about Justin Herbert and his preparation?

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, most likely to: “Throw a touchdown pass, be our president, do whatever Justin Herbert wants,” senior running back Tony Brooks-James said. “Anything he puts his mind to.”

This week, Herbert has set his mind to do whatever it takes to lead No. 19 Oregon to its first Pac-12 conference victory of the season against No. 24 California. The Bears are undefeated and have one of the best defenses in the country.

Herbert’s preparation for Cal, the team with the most interceptions in the conference, began late Saturday night after the Ducks’ stunning loss to No. 7 Stanford.

The 6-foot-6, 240-pound junior sat at his locker in Oregon’s Hatfield-Dowlin Complex. Brooks-James walked over to talk to his quarterback. The two Ducks sat and reflected on the mistakes that caused the overtime defeat, but then Herbert changed the trajectory of the conversation.

He told Brooks-James that they needed to move on, learn from loss, adjust in practice, and beat Cal. Brooks-James agreed.

“For him to acknowledge that, is much different from last year Herbert to this year Herbert,” said Brooks-James. “Last year ‘Herb’ would have sat at his locker an hour longer and dwell on his mistakes.”

Brooks-James has witnessed Herbert’s transformation, mentally and physically.

Two years, two head coaches and 20 pounds of muscle ago, Herbert made his first start on the road against Cal. Herbert threw a program record six touchdown passes, including five in the second half and overtime, but the Ducks lost the double-overtime thriller, 52-49. The freshman quarterback threw a pick in double-overtime to seal Cal's victory and collapsed on the field in tears before his teammates picked him up. He had tears in his eyes when he faced the media.

Now, Herbert returns to Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, Calif. as a potential first round NFL draft pick and Heisman Trophy candidate. He’s ready to lead the Ducks to a vital victory at Cal that starts toughest stretch of their 2018 schedule. Herbert has thrown for more than 300 yards in back-to-back games and going into week five, has the best passer rating in the conference at 179.41. 

“He seems to get better and better as the moments get bigger,” said Oregon coach Mario Cristobal. “He is driven. He hungers for that… He won’t allow himself to flinch.”

Cristobal points to Herbert’s preparation as what defines the quarterback. In his first year as UO’s head coach, Cristobal says he’s seen Herbert prepare harder and harder each week.

Herbert, never a boaster, downplayed his game prep when asked. He said he meets with his teammates as much as possible to make sure the team is comfortable with the game plan.

Sounds like coach speak, doesn’t it? It kind of is. Cristobal has repeatedly called Herbert a “field general” who understands the run game like a coordinator does. The offense relies heavily on Herbert’s advanced knowledge of protections and the running game. He’s able to quickly get the offense into the right play, based on shifting defensive looks.

His presence in the pocket, paired with his ability to hurt opponents with his legs while also displaying solid arm strength, is one of the reasons he’s become a hot commodity among NFL scouts. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller has Herbert ranked as his top quarterback and No. 9 overall prospect.

On Saturdays, Herbert listens to music on walks while rehearsing the game plan. The plan is always the same.

“Not do anything special, stay in my game plan and rely on my teammates,” Herbert said.

Herbert, not special? There are 11 defenses in the conference that would probably disagree.

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

https://twitter.com/taj_griffin/status/1043742160535736320

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. 

 

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. 

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]