The title of Pac-12's best team will be on the line as Stanford (9-0, 7-0 league) plays host to Oregon (8-1, 6-0), 5 p.m. Saturday at Stanford Stadium.
The Ducks have two more games after Saturday, and a third possibly in the Pac-12 championship game. But Saturday's game will serve as the de facto title game.
The Cardinal have won 17 consecutive games, and 11 consecutive home games. Oregon has won 18 consecutive league games.
Something's got to give.
• Wow, what a matchup. Here's some statistical comparisons:
Scoring offense - Stanford 48.2, Oregon 46.0
Scoring defense - Stanford 16.6, Oregon 20.8
Total offense - Oregon 510.7, Stanford 505.8
Total defense - Stanford 324.0, Oregon 383.8
Rush offense - Oregon 298.4, Stanford 224.7
Rush defense - Stanford 78.9, Oregon 149.2
Pass offense - Stanford 281.1, Oregon 212.2
Pass defense - Oregon 234.6, Stanford 245.1
Turnover margin - Stanford plus-7, Oregon plus-2
Time of possession: Stanford 33:17, Oregon 23:52
Third down conversions: Stanford 53.4 percent, Oregon 46.9
Sacks - Oregon 29, Stanford 28
Sacks against - Stanford four, Oregon five
Red-zone offense - Stanford 52 of 52, Oregon 38 of 42
Red-zone defense - Stanford 66.7 percent, Oregon 75.8
Net punting - Oregon 44.2 yards, Stanford 35.3
What sticks out: Oregon is giving up 383.3 yards total offense per game (fifth, Pac-12); Stanford's allowing only 78.9 yards rushing per game (third nationally); Oregon ranks last in the Pac-12 in time of possession; Stanford, with quarterback Andrew Luck, ranks first in Pac-12 pass efficiency, and Oregon, with QB Darron Thomas, is second.
• It's not all about Luck and offense at Stanford.
The Cardinal lead the Pac-12 in rushing defense, total defense, scoring defense and red-zone defense. They have held opponents to 10 points in the first quarter all season, and outscored the past 22 opponents 480-158 in the first half.
Outside linebacker Chase Thomas has 12 1/2 tackles for loss and 6 1/2 sacks.
"They're similar to what we do defensively," UO coach Chip Kelly says. "We're used to it."
Stanford operates a 3-4 defense, but gives different looks with players playing different roles. Oregon plays a 4-3 mostly, but often uses odd fronts.
• Kelly admires the job done by David Shaw, who took over as Stanford head coach from Jim Harbaugh, now coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
"I give him a ton of credit," Kelly says. "It's been seamless. They haven't missed a beat."
Yeah, Kelly will be going against a coach with a better win percentage than himself. Kelly's 30-5 in two-plus seasons, Shaw's 9-0.
• Says Kelly, of Luck: "He can do it all. He's really, really athletic and throws the ball extremely accurate on the run. You're picking a poison" when deciding what to stop with Luck.
"What separates him is just how smart he is. He can see the whole field. He can pick up blitzes. He's really sharp. That's why he's the whole package. It's tough to fool him."
Luck is completing 71.3 percent of his passes, with 2,424 yards, 26 TDs and five interceptions.
• Of Stanford, Kelly adds: "It's a run-first operation, but you can't get caught up in that, or they'll throw play-action passes over your head. Everybody has to be very sound (defensively). Andrew's such a good ball faker. They have so many weapons, they're so multi-formational, they really keep you guessing. You finally figure out what they're in, they snap the ball and they're gone."
• Oregon this and that: "I've been really impressed with our D-line," Kelly says. ... Kelly says it's a "competitive situation" with kickers Alejandro Maldonado and Rob Beard on field goals. ... Kelly praises linebacker Dewitt Stuckey. "He's been the key to us on the defensive side," he says. "He's been our most consistent player." ... Can UO's speed beat Stanford's size? "Sure," Kelly says. ... LaMichael James has 1,061 yards rushing with 11 total TDs. Kenjon Barner has 601 yards rushing and eight scores. De'Anthony Thomas ranks fifth in the Pac-12 in all-purpose yardage (150.7) with 12 total TDs; James ranks first in the league in all-purpose yardage (194.7). ... James says it's not a big deal playing Stanford. "Just going out there to compete like it was anybody else," he says. ... James, on Luck, a fellow 2010 Heisman Trophy finalist: "He's a great guy. Humble. Down-to-earth. ... Thomas has thrown 19 TDs with only five picks. ... Punter Jackson Rice leads the Pac-12 in punting average, 46.8. ... Dion Jordan has 9 1/2 tackles for loss, and Josh Kaddu has six sacks. ... Oregon is a rare underdog at Stanford. "Nobody cares who's the underdog," James says. "It's why the game's played on the field." He does take exception to Stanford being characterized as more physical.
• Stanford this and that: Receiver Chris Owusu, who suffered a concussion against Oregon State, won't play against the Ducks. "He feels great. He's in great spirits," Shaw says. "As with all competitors, he wants to play. But that's not his decision." Freshman Ty Montgomery and Drew Terrell will get some action, along with starter Griff Whalen at receiver. ... Shaw's title: Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football/Head Coach. Huh? ... Stanford reports that strong safety Delano Howell (hand) plans to play against the Ducks, and the Cardinal expects him to make an impact. ... "You can play well against Oregon and give up 30 points," Shaw says. "It's just if one guy's out of position on one play, it's a touchdown." ... Shaw says the game could be huge, but you wouldn't know it at Stanford. "This campus does a great job of keeping your perspective," he says. "I talked to a doctor who's working on campus. He's working on the steps toward curing cancer. Stanford versus Oregon is not high on his list this week. He's going to be at the game, but he's got a lot of stuff to do between now and then." ... Stanford leads the all-time series 44-29-1, but Oregon has won eight of the past nine meetings, the Cardinal's big, 51-42 home win in 2009 being the only blemish. ... The Cardinal offense has had just seven three-and-out possessions all season. ... Stepfan Taylor has rushed for 891 yards and eight scores.