Thearon W. Henderson
At Football Outsiders, the weekly preview column is up, featuring Stanford's dominant front seven as the most significant hurdle between Oregon and a perfect season, along with analysis, advanced stats and picks for the weekend's biggest games.
In the course of its Jim Harbaugh-inspired renaissance, Stanford has conquered every hill on the West Coast, except one: Oregon's offense. Since Chip Kelly arrived with his relentlessly up-tempo spread scheme in 2007, the Ducks have taken four of five against the Cardinal while averaging a little over 47 points per game. The last two in the series, in 2010 and 2011, both decided the conference championship, and both left Stanford on the bloody end of a shootout in its only loss of the regular season. If Stanford could stop Oregon – if Stanford could even slow down Oregon – Harbaugh and Andrew Luck may have left Palo Alto as national champions.
In that context, the notion that Stanford's defense presents any kind of unique challenge to Oregon's undefeated season this weekend probably seems like a reach, to put it mildly. But if there is anything at this point standing between the Ducks and the BCS Championship Game, it's the Cardinal front seven, which is beginning to look an awful lot like the handful of defenses that have given Oregon trouble in the past.