No. 5 Stanford (7-1, 5-1 Pac-12) vs. No. 3 Oregon (8-0, 5-0)
George Chen: Stanford 17, Oregon 35
I just don’t see Stanford beating Oregon today. Yes, the Cardinal defense took big steps by returning to its dominant 2012 form in its last two games, but the offense has taken just as many steps backwards. Ty Montgomery should prove to be a good challenge for the elite Ducks secondary, but name one other player that provides matchup problems for the Ducks defense. Montgomery alone won’t be enough to prevent the Ducks from keying on stopping the Cardinal’s running game. Expect Stanford’s defense to hold Oregon to 14 points in the first half, but a couple Cardinal turnovers after halftime will allow the Ducks to pull away. Marcus Mariota is too good, and I just have this feeling that this is Oregon’s year. After being thwarted by the Cardinal last season, the Ducks won’t let their national title hopes slip away again.
Sam Fisher: Stanford 31, Oregon 28
When I first sat down to write this pick, I took the Ducks by 11. Stanford’s offense just hasn’t looked good enough to beat the Ducks over the past few weeks, and fifth-year senior defensive end Ben Gardner’s injury is going to be very hard to overcome. But then I watched highlights from Stanford’s win at Autzen last season. So many of the key players from that victory will be on the field tonight, including Shayne Skov, A.J. Tarpley, Henry Anderson, Trent Murphy and Kevin Hogan. It’s going to be extremely difficult to replace the production Zach Ertz ‘13 provided in last year’s win, but I have a funny feeling someone is going to step up. In a game eerily reminiscent of 2012, but with a little more scoring, Stanford wins on a late field goal and shocks the nation again.
Vihan Lakshman: Stanford 24, Oregon 28:
My heart says Stanford, but my gut says to go with the Ducks. Despite the defense playing a nearly perfect game last year in Autzen Stadium, the Cardinal still needed a few huge strokes of good fortune to pull out the win. This time around, I don’t expect the football gods to grant the Card as many fortuitous bounces. While I believe the Stanford offense will start off with a bang and take an early lead as it opens up the full playbook, this game will come down to Kevin Hogan being able to convert on third-and-long to keep Mariota and company off the field; Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and the rest of the Ducks’ secondary, however, will not allow that to happen. Stanford will lose on a late Oregon touchdown in a game that will live up to its billing as one of the best of the year.