Pac-12 North Notebook: Stanford must take advantage of national spotlight

BY foxsports • October 13, 2015

Stanford has an opportunity to make a statement on Thursday night as it plays host to UCLA. In order to launch itself into the College Football Playoff picture, the Cardinal better take advantage.

National voters haven’t seen much of Stanford since its victory over USC. While they have been focused on other Pac-12 teams such as Utah and Cal, the Cardinal have quickly been building a juggernaut.

Stanford has been fantastic on the ground over its past four games and is third in the nation in time of possession, a staple of its offense since Jim Harbaugh took over as coach in 2007. The team has also only committed three turnovers.

UCLA presents a challenge offensively due to its own rushing attack and impressive freshman QB Josh Rosen; however, the Cardinal should continue to find success on the ground.

Stanford ranks No. 27 in the nation on the ground and has rushed for more than 300 yards in each of its past two games. Meanwhile, UCLA is No. 100 in the country against the run and is allowing 197 yards per game on the ground.

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey leads the nation in all-purpose yards and has been at his best over the past three games. UCLA head coach Jim Mora is concerned about McCaffrey, saying he’s a fantastic player and that the Bruins will have to take a detailed approach in order to stop him.

“You have to be disciplined because he does have great change of direction and he’s patient,” Mora said. “You have got to tackle well because he is a guy that is slippery. His all-purpose yards are off the charts. He is just a really tremendous player, great competitor.”

Stanford only has so many opportunities left to impress voters. After this game, Stanford doesn’t play another game with any sort of national allure until Nov. 21 against Cal.

If the Cardinal want to be taken seriously on a national level, this game against UCLA represents their best shot. Moreover, with UCLA’s injuries piling up and Stanford coming off a bye week in good shape health-wise, the Cardinal are in a great position to take out a very talented Bruins team.

Huskies look to end Ducks decade of dominance

By the time Oregon and Washington play in Seattle on Saturday, it will have been 4,367 days since the Huskies last beat the Ducks. Based on the direction both teams are trending, Oregon’s decade of dominance may be coming to an end.

The Ducks are coming off of their third loss of the season, a 45-38 double-overtime loss to Washington State. The Huskies are coming off of a shocking 17-12 upset of USC in Los Angeles.

Oregon’s problems stem from the fact that their starting QB, Vernon Adams Jr., is still trying to come back from a broken finger and the defense is severely flawed. The Ducks are ranked No. 113 in total defense, while the Huskies are ranked No. 27.

Oregon still has a potent rushing attack, but it hasn’t been strong enough to carry the Ducks to victory. Washington is ranked No. 30 against the rush, meaning the Ducks could be in for a world of hurt in Seattle.

Cal, Goff aren’t done just yet

Despite throwing five interceptions against Utah in a close 30-24 loss, Cal and QB Jared Goff shouldn’t be forgotten. In fact, the Bears proved that they belonged on the field with a team that has perhaps the best resume in the country.

The Bears defense forced three turnovers against the Utes and leads the nation with 21 takeaways. If the defense can continue to get Goff and the Bears' potent offense more possessions, the team could continue to exceed expectations as it hits the toughest part of its schedule.

The Bears next three games are against UCLA, USC and Oregon.

Quick hits: Oregon’s loss to Washington State represented the first time the Ducks had lost consecutive home games since the 2002 season … Washington LB Travis Feeney was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week … Stanford is favored by 6.5 points versus UCLA … Mike Leach called Oregon’s Lewis and Clark inspired uniforms “irrelevant” … Washington and Washington State are both favored against Oregon and Oregon State … Oregon has gone 10-0-1 against the spread in its current 11-game win streak against Washington.

Jason Gold covers the Pac-12 for FOX Sports. Follow Jason on Twitter @TheSportsGuy33.

 


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