Game Of The Week: Oregon At Stanford
No. 7 Oregon (8-1) at No. 4 Stanford (9-0)
5:00 p.m. PT on ABC
Stanford players to watch:
Andrew Luck, QB #12 - Jr.
The talented Heisman Trophy contender will have to get the ball out fast due to the Ducks' blitzing defense. Look for the fast and athletic signal caller to use his underrated run skill often.
Griff Whalen, WR #17 - Sr.
Brother of former Cardinal WR Ryan Whalen has become a clutch 3rd down receiver this season while leading Stanford in receptions with 36 grabs. Not a speed demon, but gets by with excellent hands and route-running savvy.
Delano Howell, SS #26 - Sr.
This physical tackler is back after missing three games and it couldn't come at a better time as the Cardinal will need his open field tackling skill to slow down the Ducks' explosive ground attack.
Jarek Lancaster, LB #35 - Jr.
Leading the Cardinal with 50 total tackles on the year. Very good instincts and is quick to key and diagnose the run. Will play a big role in shutting down cutback lanes for the quick and shifty LaMichael James.
Coby Fleener, TE #82 - Sr.
This outstanding pass receiver should have a huge say in the final outcome. His ability to stretch the defense and create downfield mismatches vs. smaller safeties will be key.
Oregon players to watch:
LaMichael James, RB #21 - Jr.
The dynamic junior leads the nation with 151 rushing yards per game, including an Oregon record 6 games of over 200 yards in his career. His biggest asset is his unusual burst and acceleration through the line of scrimmage. Very difficult to contain for four quarters.
Darron Thomas, QB #5 - Jr.
Boasts an eye-catching record of 19-2 as a starter for the Ducks. Is an underrated passer who really understands how to run the Ducks high-octane option attack. His decision making seems to get better with each game played.
De'Anthony Thomas, RB #6 - Fr.
Accounted for 262 all purpose yards while replacing an injured LaMichael James two weeks ago vs. Washington State. Averaging 15.3 on 25 catches with 6 TDs. Also an explosive KO returner. Like James, this kid is difficult to contain due to speed and elusiveness.
Josh Kaddu, LB #56 - Sr.
Has been very productive throughout his career for the Ducks and leads the defense now with 6 sacks and 8 TFLs. He is a run and hit type sideline to sideline player and a very active blitzer.
This is as big as it gets for the Pac-12 Conference as both teams come into the game ranked in the BCS top-10. A Stanford victory would put them at 10-0 and in line for a shot at the BCS National Championship in New Orleans on January 9. As both squads bring high scoring offenses into the game, it will come down to the play of the defenses that determines the outcome.
Stanford will be without star WR Chris Owusu but the talented and capable freshman Ty Montgomery will start in his place. The Cardinal run game, led by junior Stepfan Taylor, is averaging an impressive 224 yards per game but this Oregon defense will be the most difficult they have faced this season. The Ducks will be going all out with blitz packages to pressure Andrew Luck and force him into some ill-advised throws. The danger with that is Luck can step away from pressure and get the ball out quickly so the Oregon DB's will have to stay disciplined in their coverage responsibilities or they can be burned for big gains.
The Cardinal defense, on the other hand, will have its hands full trying to contain arguably the most explosive offense in the land. With a big and athletic offensive line leading the way for an explosive option attack, the Ducks are extremely difficult to contain. Stanford does have a very disciplined and smart defense and their gap control will be the biggest key in containing the cutback ability of the speedy LaMichael James. It can be slowed for awhile but very difficult to stop for four quarters of play, especially when fatigue starts to settle in late in the game. This is a very tough game to predict. It should be close and the availability of Stanford placekicker Jordan Williamson, who has hit on 11-12 FG's this season, will be crucial. As with all games of this magnitude, turnovers will play a huge role and will determine who comes away with the victory.