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DUCKS NOTES: Something has to give Saturday

EUGENE — It's a convergence of the best kind: No. 1 offense vs. No. 1 defense, at least statistically speaking.

The Oregon Ducks average 54.8 points, 562.2 yards offense and 325.1 yards rushing per game — all tops in the Pac-12.

The Stanford Cardinal give up 17.2 points, 320.7 yards offense and 58.6 yards rushing per game — all tops in the Pac-12.

The UO pass game with QB Marcus Mariota averages 237.5 yards. The Stanford pass defense gives up 262.1. The Cardinal lead the Pac-12 with 43 sacks, the Ducks have given up a league-low 14. Pretty equal stuff here.

Something has to give in the 5 p.m. Saturday showdown at Autzen Stadium (ABC). The game between the Ducks (10-0, 7-0 Pac-12) and Cardinal (8-2, 7-1) will essentially be for the Pac-12 North Division title.

"Huge challenge for us, offensively," UO coach Chip Kelly says. "They have a lot of veteran players, and they play hard. I like watching them on film, a lot of fun to watch. I hope they're not as productive on Saturday."

But one big question remains: Can the Cardinal compete with UO's offensive speed, which was on full display in the Ducks' 52-31 and 53-30 victories the past two seasons? Kelly downplays perceived speed advantage.

"I don't look at it that way," Kelly says. "I look at them being the No. 1 rush defense in the country, No. 1 in sacks in the country. I'd say they're doing a good job on defense. ... They're running sideline to sideline; you don't give up 50 yards rushing if you're not running sideline to sideline."

Dealing with Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas carrying the ball will be one issue for Stanford. Defending vertically up field might be another matter, especially with Mariota playing at such a high level. The likes of Josh Huff, Thomas and Keanon Lowe can scoot, and tight end Colt Lyerla has pretty good athleticism going against linebackers.

"They got a really good front seven," Mariota says. "It's whatever we have to do. We might have to throw the ball a little bit more, or there are some run game things we can do. We just have to execute.

"I feel we have guys up front who can really move the line of scrimmage. If they get rolling early, we might we well keep going. If it's not broken, don't fix it."

The Cardinal has played another spread offense with a good quarterback. Arizona and Matt Scott scored 48 points with 617 yards offense in a two-overtime loss; Scott went 45 of 69 for 491 yards and three TDs. The Cardinal did hold the UA running game in check (126 yards).

Oregon shut out Arizona, 49-0.

• Stanford coach David Shaw has been preparing his players to face Oregon's up-tempo spread-option offense, by using two different offensive units to alternate playing against the starting defense in practice.

"The defense has to scramble to a new formation and quickly communicate before the ball gets snapped," Shaw tells the San Francisco Chronicle. "As for the tempo of the snaps, that's as close as we can come."

He adds: "We don't talk about stopping anybody. We talk about slowing everybody down. There's no stopping these guys. You can hold them down for a while, but eventually they're going to crack a couple on you."

• Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor certainly has the Ducks' attention as the centerpiece of the Cardinal's power running game.

"For some reason, don't know why, an underrated running back," Kelly says. "He doesn't get enough publicity or notoriety for what he's done. He's going down as one of the all-time great running backs in Stanford history. A physical runner, got great vision. Strong, breaks tackles. It's really a challenge for us, in terms of tackling him."

Taylor has surpassed 1,000 yards for the third time (1,061 yards, 4.7 per carry).

Stanford quarterback Josh Nunes and Kevin Hogan — the latter the mobile redshirt freshman who had a successful first start against Oregon State — have relied heavily on big tight ends Zach Ertz (the team's leading receiver with 47 catches, 641 yards, 5 TDs) and Levine Toilolo, as well as Taylor out of the backfield. David Terrell and Ty Montgomery are the team's wideout threats.

"Ertz is kind of a unique prospect — the athletic ability to line up at receiver, but physical enough to play on the line of scrimmage," Kelly says.

On Hogan, the coach adds: "He's athletic, big, can run for his size, throws. They try to get him on the move a lot. We need to worry about rush lanes."

• The Ducks are ranked No. 1 in polls for the second time in school history (2010 also).

"Means absolutely nothing, if we don't go out and win on Saturday," Kelly says.

Thinking about Alabama losing and the Ducks' No. 1 ranking, "it's wasted energy, in my opinion." Kelly did address the Alabama loss before the team's game at Cal, because "I thought everybody was talking about it. I knew my phone blew up." But he stressed that it shouldn't affect UO's game; the proverbial outside influence didn't bother the Ducks, who won 59-17.

• Mariota fell on his left shoulder after a run against Cal, got up and felt numbing in the shoulder. "It's just one of those freak things, landed on it weird," he says. "I'm good."

He injured the same shoulder against USC, but "it was kind of in a different spot."

• Barner, who has 1,360 yards rushing and 20 total touchdowns, needs only 81 yards to move into second on UO's all-time rushing list (Derek Loville, 3,296). He won't catch the all-time leader, 5,000-yard rusher LaMichael James. It looks like he'll break James' record of 21 rushing TDs in a season, though. He has 19.

•Â Oregon has won nine of the past 10 meetings with Stanford, with the Cardinal's 51-42 win in 2009 the only blemish.

•Â The Ducks have scored 42 or more points in 13 consecutive games and 30 or more in 23 in a row, the latter an NCAA record.

•Â The Ducks are 63-13 since Kelly joined the UO staff in 2007.

• Of Oregon's 34 wins since the start of the 2010 season, 32 have been by 10 or more points and 24 by 20 points or more.

•Â Mariota's 28 TD passes are a Pac-12 freshman record, eclipsing the 19 by Arizona's Ortege Jenkins in 1997. His 71.7 completion percentage is on pace to set an NCAA record.