Stanford (5-3, 3-2 Pac-12) vs. No. 5 Oregon (7-1, 4-1)
Michael Peterson: Oregon 28, Stanford 17
If Stanford had just squeaked out a win against Oregon State, I would have predicted this to be a blowout more along the lines of the 2010 and 2011 matchups. Against the Beavers, though, the Cardinal finally put it all, or at least most of it, together for the first time this season. The offense moved the ball at will, the red zone performance was crisp and the defense shut down the opposition as always. The team’s “potential” was finally realized, and although it was a different style of Stanford domination than we’re used to, it was absolutely what Cardinal fans wanted to see. If Stanford plays like it did against Oregon State, it certainly has a chance to leave Eugene victorious. But as we’ve seen all season, the Cardinal are inconsistent, and this prediction is merely a reflection of that. The defense will keep it close for most of the game, but too many short, unsuccessful drives on the offensive side of the ball will fatigue a banged-up defensive unit, and Stanford will surrenders three second-half touchdowns to Mariota and company.
Ashley Westhem: Oregon 31, Stanford 24
The matchup of Oregon’s up-tempo spread offense, which has put up more than 40 points in six of its nine games, against Stanford’s ruthless defense, which has only allowed one team to score more than 20 points this season, provides just the recipe for the exciting Oregon-Stanford game that’s become the norm. Despite Stanford already losing two conference matchups, it still has the opportunity to make an appearance in its third straight Pac-12 Championship Game if it defeats Oregon. The Cardinal’s chances to win depends on if they can play a flawless game — no turnovers, no fumbles, no penalties and with a high third-down conversion rate. While their performance against OSU helped reestablish my (shaky) confidence in its ability to compete with the Ducks, the Stanford offense won’t be able to produce enough points to pull it off in the end.
Winston Shi: Oregon 28, Stanford 14
We know Stanford has been inconsistent. But we should also be asking what Oregon will come to play — the team that sped by Michigan State or the one that got housed (again) by Arizona? Quite frankly, the Ducks have looked shaky — but Stanford has looked even worse. I hate to pick against Stanford, and I firmly believe that Stanford has the talent and the coaching (yes, the sky is not falling) to beat Oregon. I don’t necessarily have faith that it will. Stanford at its best can take on Oregon at its best, but the problem is that Oregon is a lot more likely to hit full steam than Stanford will be. First off, Stanford’s newfound insistence on attacking the outside, which was so successful against Oregon State, might not work against the Ducks’ speedy defense. Moreover, Oregon’s biggest weakness on offense — its banged-up offensive line — will be facing a Stanford defensive line that has been injured even more. My prediction reflects the fact that if Oregon wins, it’s going to try to exorcise its Cardinal demons and run up the score. But it primarily reflects the fact that Oregon will likely be the better team on Saturday. I hope that I’ll have to eat my words.
David Cohn: Oregon 35, Stanford 14
I have to say that Oregon is one of the best teams that I have seen this season, as the Ducks are certainly contenders to make the inaugural College Football Playoff. Stanford had a bounce back performance against Oregon State at home, but the Cardinal have struggled on the road this season, with their win away from the Farm coming in Seattle against Washington. Marcus Mariota will play like one of the best players in college football, and while Stanford’s defense has been very strong this season, the Cardinal could tire if the offense stalls like it did at Arizona State. In the end, I believe that Oregon will notch its first victory against Stanford since 2011 as the Ducks continue on their path toward a national title.
Do-Hyoung Park: Stanford 28, Oregon 24
I really seem to have a thing for being the voice of dissent over these last few weeks, and I’m usually the pessimistic one, too. Will Stanford’s defense stuff Oregon on every drive like it did last year? With a (presumably) completely healthy Marcus Mariota back, absolutely not. Expecting that to happen is just misguided. But I do have faith in this defense as long as Stanford’s offense can stay on the field for even a reasonable amount of time. And speaking to that offense, the players and coaches both got a critical boost of confidence from the showing against Oregon State last week. The offense is going to need to stay on the field — the ludicrous possession advantage of last season isn’t happening — and I expect Stanford to keep moving the chains with outside runs and short passes to tight ends. And on top of that, I’m expecting David Shaw to open up the entire playbook and use some creativity to complement the new scheme. The wide receiver reverse pass from the 2012 Rose Bowl? A throw out of the TyCat? A (gasp) fake field goal? I’m expecting at least some trickery from Shaw, and I think it will catch Oregon off guard as Kevin Hogan will play the game of his life — he’s 2-for-2 in showing up against the Ducks, after all.