Three things to know about Shayne Skov, Stanford's star linebacker

Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Stanford's Trent Murphy, Josh Mauro, and Ed Reynolds, plus the rest of the Cardinal's elite defense, will have to star to upset the Ducks on Thursday night. But don't be surprised if a face-painted linebacker makes the most plays.

1. He's tasked with shutting down Oregon — again.

When you're watching Stanford-Oregon, you'll be seeing plenty of Shayne Skov, Stanford's standout inside linebacker. Skov and his fellow defenders have to keep the vaunted Oregon offense in check, and that would sound impossible if they hadn't done exactly that to Marcus Mariota and company just last year — here's Skov's superlative performance in that game:

At times, Skov looks a little slow in that film, and while Oregon makes a lot of linebackers look slow, it's because he was still recovering from an injury that he's 100 percent back from now. Speaking of which ...

2. He probably should have been in the NFL by now.

Skov was a can't-miss prospect for the NFL two years ago as a junior before one of the worst knee injuries possible, an ACL and MCL tear combined with a fractured tibia. Skov needed three surgeries to repair the injury, suffered early in the 2011 season against Arizona, and though he returned in time for the 2012 season and led the team in tackles he wasn't flashing the same athleticism as before.

He is now, and after receiving a medical redshirt season to come back this year, he's looking better than ever.

3. He's not shy.

Skov doesn't mind your attention, either, which is why you saw him in Sports Illustrated's college football preview this August, in a "nerd" type get-up with suspenders and a pocket protector ... and the sleeves ripped off and his face covered in his trademark eyeblack. It's a pretty stellar picture, even if it doesn't have the mohawk that he brought to the Stanford linebacking corps back in 2010. At any rate, this self-decorated warrior is going to be front and center in Stanford's efforts on Thursday.

Also, don't ever disparage Stanford's academic standards for football players on Facebook with him nearby.

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