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Keys to the game and pregame thread, Oregon at Stanford

Oregon is wearing the yellow-white-yellow uniform combination they wore for last year’s Civil War, and that’s a good omen for the uniform superstitious: De’Anthony Thomas ran for 122 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Ducks doubled up the Beavers 48-24 in that look.

To win, the Ducks need a push from the offensive line, and penetration on defense. Taylor Hart and Wade Keliikipi couldn’t play last year against the Cardinal, and neither did Avery Patterson in the secondary. This year the defense is at full strength, and they’ll need that to withstand Stanford’s big offensive line.

Six, for six: Getting De’Anthony Thomas loose in his favorite uniform combination would be a big plus for the Oregon offense tonight against Stanford (Jonathan Ferrey, Getty Images.)

 

Offensively, Oregon can use the pass to keep Stanford from loading up on the run, but they need balance and offensive rhythm, and that means establishing a running game.  They have a much better chance to win if Byron Marshall gets his 7th 100-yard game. The Oregon offensive line has to get some blocks on the Stanford front–last year it seemed the Ducks were in 2nd and long, 3rd and long all night, with a lot of negative plays. Stanford had 10 tackles for loss in the game. The Ducks need to keep third downs manageable and build some offensive tempo, requiring more consistency, discipline and recognition from the offensive line.

Matt Wogan has a great opportunity to effect the outcome by making good on his goal of getting touchbacks in this game, keeping it out of the hands of Ty Montgomery, who’s been the most dangerous returner in the conference.

Marcus Mariota has an opportunity to show he’s a great quarterback. That isn’t how he looks at it or what he plays for, but this is the biggest stage of his career so far, the biggest game. Oregon has a chance to solidify themselves as a national championship finalist, and they need a defining game from their quarterback. They need Super Mario to be super, sharp, focused, in command, accurate, poised and taking charge of the game.

Oregon has to limit the self-inflicted wounds, penalties, turnovers, missed tackles.

If the Ducks have an advantage this game, it’s speed. To use that advantage, to make it real against a power team, they need one or two of their playmakers to break big plays. When they won 53-30 in Palo Alto two years ago, they got a pick six from Bo Lokombo, a 41-yard catch-and-run from De’Anthony Thomas, and a 59-yard breakway from Josh Huff. When they lost in 2012, they got just one big play, Mariota’s long run, and they couldn’t convert that to a score.

The Quack Attack is more devastating when they get some sudden strikes, something The Cardinal can’t easily duplicate.

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