Stanford-Oregon Preview

Oregon has pretty much had its way on both sides of the football

this season. That’s also been the case recently at home against

Stanford.

These high-scoring and defensive-minded teams meet Saturday

night, with the fourth-ranked Ducks trying to hand the No. 9

Cardinal another lopsided loss at Autzen Stadium.

Oregon (4-0, 1-0 Pac-10) has defeated Stanford (4-0, 1-0) by an

average of 26.8 points over the past four meetings in Eugene,

dating to 2002. That’s a trend the Cardinal would like to end, but

the Ducks enter this matchup as one of the top offensive teams in

the nation.

They lead the FBS with an average of 57.8 points and are third

in both rushing yards (321.8) and total yards (560.0) per game.

Oregon is also no slouch on the defensive end, ranking third in the

nation with 11.0 points allowed per contest.

The Ducks, though, are coming off their worst game of the

season. After outscoring their first three opponents 189-13, they

trailed 24-14 in the second quarter at Arizona State last Saturday

before coming away with a 42-31 victory.

Oregon struggled on the ground, gaining 145 yards for its lowest

total since rushing for 31 at then-No. 14 Boise State on Sept. 3,

2009. However, Darron Thomas threw for 260 yards and two scores,

and the Ducks forced seven turnovers.

“You see that the defense came out in the second quarter and

played an awesome game, helped us out on offense,” Thomas said. “We

never had no doubt that we weren’t going to put up points.”

The defense did allow 597 yards, and with Andrew Luck leading

the Cardinal and the nation’s fourth-ranked scoring offense into

Autzen Stadium this weekend, Oregon coach Chip Kelly knows his team

must get back on track.

“Obviously, they’re one of the top teams in the country and it’s

going to be a dogfight,” said Kelly, who agreed this week to a

contract extension through 2015 that is worth $20.5 million.

Stanford has taken a similar path to the top 10, with three

lopsided wins followed by an impressive road victory. The Cardinal

are scoring 48.0 points per game, and like Oregon, are playing well

defensively by allowing an average of 13.8 – tied for 12th in the

FBS.

They rolled to a 37-14 victory at Notre Dame last Saturday to

move to 4-0 for the first time since 1986, despite Heisman hopeful

Luck throwing his first two interceptions of the season.

“It will give me something to work on during the week,” said

Luck, who was picked off only four times last season in his first

year as a starter. “Not like I won’t have anything to work on, but

something more.”

Luck passed for 251 yards with two touchdowns and no

interceptions as Stanford ended a seven-game skid to Oregon with a

51-42 win last Nov. 7.

That game was in Palo Alto, but coach Jim Harbaugh thinks last

week’s win at South Bend will help his team get ready for the tough

task of playing in Eugene.

“To win a ballgame, I mean, that is a great thing. Then to be

able to go into another stadium, into a hostile environment, I

mean, nothing makes you feel quite like a man like that does,” he

said.

“So I think it will be good for our football team. But, you

know, every week in college football is a new week and your season

can turn on one week. Just important for us to move forward, get

ready for Oregon, keep going with humble hearts, keep working.”

Harbaugh’s defense will try to contain running back LaMichael

James, who is second in the nation with 475 rushing yards. James

ran for 125 yards and a TD while catching four passes for 89 yards

in last season’s meeting.