Game of the Week: No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 5 Stanford

Story posted November 7, 2013 in Sports, CommRadio by Aaron Carr

Each week ComRadio staff writer Aaron Carr will highlight a matchup in college football that he considers to be the “Game of the Week.” If you’re going to enjoy some college football action then this is the ONE contest that you do not want to miss. Carr’s, “Game of the Week” selection for week eleven of the college football season comes to you live from Stanford, California where a pair of Pac-12 heavyweights fight for conference supremacy.

The Game: No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 5 Stanford

“I feel like, this team, we should at least put up 40.” – Oregon running back De’Anthony Thomas.

Oh my. As if this matchup needed any extra bulletin board material. Stanford versus Oregon hasn’t just become the game of the week for week 11; it has become the game of season, for the Pac-12 Conference.

During the four-year Chip Kelly era, the two programs traded wins and losses against one another. Stanford and Oregon also comprise the last four Pac-12 Conference champions.

Unranked Stanford knocked off No. 7 Oregon 52-41, in 2009. No. 4 Oregon defeated No. 9 Stanford 52-31 the year after. In Andrew Luck’s final season at Stanford, No. 6 Oregon upset No. 3 Stanford 53-30 and last season, No. 14 Stanford upset No. 1 Oregon 17-14 in overtime.

In essence, the two programs have cost one another a shot at the national championship at various times during the past four years. With each team currently ranked in the top five this deep in the season, one of the two will, in all likelihood, cost the other a shot at playing for the crystal football yet again.

For Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, this game is all about revenge. Oregon’s sophomore signal caller is 20-1 in his collegiate career with that lone loss coming against the Cardinal last season.

A year ago the Ducks, led by Mariota, were on a collision course with then No. 2 Kansas State to decide who would become the BCS National Champions. Stanford’s overtime upset cost Oregon, and Mariota, everything: the BCS National Championship, the Pac-12 championship and in Mariota’s case, the Heisman Trophy.

Fast forward to 2013, all of those things are still on the line for the Ducks, Mariota and the Cardinal.

Mariota, who has 2,792 total yards and 29 total touchdowns in eight games this season, is once again viewed as a legitimate Heisman contender. Of all the gaudy numbers the Oregon QB boasts, his most impressive number is actually...zero.

After only tossing a miniscule six interceptions a year ago, Mariota hasn’t thrown a pick yet this season. The last team to force an errant Mariota pass into the hands of a defender: Stanford.

After suffering an early-season loss to Utah 27-21, the Cardinal have gone back on the defensive, holding high-scoring opponents UCLA and Oregon State to ten and 12 points respectively.

Stanford, ranking 19th in the country in points against at just a bit over 19 points per game, will certainly be tested against an Oregon offense that’s currently putting up 55.6 points per contest, good for second-best in the country.

The Ducks season-low single-game point total was the 42 points it put up in its most recent victory over then No. 12 UCLA two weeks ago.

Perhaps Thomas’s pregame prediction was a tad modest.

Players to Watch:

RB De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon: If you’re going to come out and say your offense is going to dump 40 plus points on Stanford, you better produce. After missing four games with an ankle injury, Thomas returned last week in the win against UCLA, albeit in a limited role. The speedster had 10 carries for 31 yards and a touchdown against versus the Bruins. Pre-injury, Thomas was a force, rushing for 338 yards on 42 carries. Look for the Oregon coaching staff to unleash the elusive Thomas on the Cardinal defense.

DB Jordan Richards, Stanford: If any member of the Cardinal defense is going to pick off Mariota, the safe bet is on Richards. The junior safety leads the team in interceptions (3) as well as pass deflections with six. No other Stanford defender has more than one interception. The Folsom, CA., native had two interceptions in the win over UCLA and returned his interception against Washington State 30 yards for a touchdown. If Stanford is to have a chance against Oregon, it’ll need big plays from its defense.

By the Numbers:

33 The Stanford defense has forced a turnover in 33 straight games, the second-longest active streak in the country.

4 There are four teams currently in the BCS top 25 that also rank in the top 10 in points for and points against: Florida State, Baylor, Ohio State and Oregon.

47 Clearly De’Anthony Thomas knows his offense. Since 2009, Oregon has produced a staggering 47 games where it scored 40 or more points.

Aaron Carr is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email adc5230@psu.edu.