Stanford handed Oregon its lone loss in 2012. On Thursday night, the No. 5 Cardinal find themselves in a position to repeat history. Stanford hosts the No. 3 Ducks Thursday night (9 p.m. ET, ESPN) in a game that has significant implications for the Pac-12 title and BCS National Championship Game.
Oregon is averaging 55.6 points per game, but Stanford may have a defense good enough to hold the Ducks well below that figure. Stanford's defensive stand against the Oregon running game was the determining factor in the Cardinal's 2012 victory. Stanford has held its last two opponents (UCLA, Oregon State) to a combined 22 points; the Cardinal are 11th nationally in yards allowed per play, and the defense looks even better through the eyes of advanced metrics.
Rankings and records: Oregon comes in at 8-0 (5-0), while the Cardinal are 7-1 (5-1). Both teams rank in the top 10 in the AP Poll and the Coaches' Poll, as well as the BCS standings. Oregon fell from second to third in the BCS standings this week, following Florida State's win over Miami. However, a victory Thursday should move Oregon back into contention for the second spot in the BCS National Championship Game. Stanford is 42-30-1 against Oregon all-time.
Vegas: Oregon opened as a 9.5-point favorite, and the early money has moved that line to 10.5 points. OddsShark has all the details.
Weather: A high of 70 is anticipated; there's no rain in the forecast.
Three names to know
Marcus Mariota -- Mariota can boost his Heisman campaign considerably with a good showing against Stanford. The Oregon quarterback still has yet to throw an interception, ranks fifth nationally in passing efficiency, and is averaging an impressive 10.1 yards per pass attempt. He also has 511 yards rushing on 56 carries, and is responsible for 29 total touchdowns.
Kevin Hogan -- Given the fact that his counterpart has yet to throw a pick, it may be more important than usual for Stanford's quarterback to take care of the football. He's shown he can be a capable passer, though big days through the air are uncommon. Hogan has topped 250 yards passing just once this season, and went just 8/18 for 88 yards in Stanford's last game, against Oregon State.
Tyler Gaffney -- Stanford likes to lean on Gaffney, who gets about 21 carries per game, and the Cardinal would no doubt love to give him plenty of work against Oregon. Gaffney ranks third in the Pac-12 with 894 rushing yards. He's also tied for the league lead with 12 rushing scores.
Two things at stake
What isn't at stake? Stanford's loss to Utah was a significant setback, but the Cardinal can take back control of their Pac-12 North fate with a victory, and can knock the Ducks out of the national title picture for the second straight year in the process. Stanford still maintains an outside shot at the BCS title game, though it has a significant gap to close at this point. Still, a win means a likely Rose Bowl, which would be the Cardinal's fourth in a row.
Oregon is currently in strong position to play for the BCS Championship. A loss here and the Ducks tumble, putting a likely end to their national title hopes while also potentially knocking them out of the Pac-12 title game. The Ducks would need Stanford to lose again in order to re-gain first place in the division.
How to witness
TV: ESPN, 9 p.m. ET
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