Big Thursday night battle Stanford hosts Oregon
No. 2 Oregon (8-0, 5-0 Pac-12) at No. 6 Stanford (7-1, 5-1), 9 p.m. EST (ESPN)
Line: Oregon by 10½.
Series Record: Stanford leads 45-30-1.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Oregon can avenge its 17-14 overtime loss to Stanford last year, keep alive its undefeated season and stay on pace for a berth in the Pac-12 title and BCS championship games. The Cardinal can overtake the Ducks in the league’s North Division and make a case they’re the strongest one-loss team in the country.
Oregon’s offense vs Stanford’s defense. Oregon, led by quarterback and Heisman Trophy hopeful Marcus Mariota, is averaging 632.1 yards and 55.6 points per game. Stanford will try to duplicate its dominant defensive performance from a year ago with a reshuffled line. Senior defensive end and co-captain Ben Gardner had season-ending surgery last week after tearing a left chest muscle. The other starting defensive end, Henry Anderson, will return after missing the last six games with a knee injury.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Oregon: De’Anthony Thomas. The do-it-all threat did almost nothing against Stanford last season. He was limited to 74 all-purpose yards and lamented not turning around and blocking a defender who chased down Mariota on a 77-yard run in the first quarter that should’ve been a touchdown. Thomas was the Ducks’ leading rusher with 338 yards and six touchdowns before missing three games with a right ankle injury and returning against UCLA on Oct. 26.
Stanford: Trent Murphy. The 6-foot-6, 261-pound outside linebacker has one of the most important assignments against Oregon’s up-tempo offense: defending Mariota’s read-options. Murphy has been up to the challenge so far. He ranks third in the country in sacks (9½) and fifth in tackles for loss (13½) this season.
FACTS & FIGURES
The winner of this game has won the Pac-12 title the past three years. The loser was handed its only regular-season loss and would’ve surely played in the BCS championship game each time had they won. … Stanford has won 13 straight home games since losing 53-30 to Oregon in 2011. … Oregon has won nine of the last 11 against Stanford. … Mariota has attempted a Pac-12 record 293 consecutive passes without an interception. His last interception came against Stanford a year ago. … Stanford has forced a turnover in 33 straight games, the second-longest streak in the country behind Missouri (39).