Marcus Mariota, No. 3 Oregon Ducks Face Pac-12 Rival No. 5 Stanford Cardinal in Battle for BCS Contention


Marcus MariotaThe No. 3 Oregon Ducks have put their undefeated record on the line before, but never like this.

The top team in the Pac-12 will get a chance Thursday night to prove they deserve their 11-5 odds of winning the BCS National Championship by taking care of the No. 5 Stanford Cardinal on the road.

The Cardinal, it’s important not to forget, are one mere October slipup away from an undefeated record of their own, making the looming date with the Ducks all the more compelling.

While Stanford — which has 40-1 college football futures — holds home-field advantage for the midweek affair, it’s the Ducks with the 10.5-point advantage on the NCAA spread prior to the game.

Coming off a Week 10 win against No. 12 UCLA and having made short work of No. 16 Washington in Week 8, it’s no surprise that Oregon has established itself as not only an unstoppable conference force but also a legitimate national contender.

Piloted by new head coach Mark Helfrich and quarterback sensation Marcus Mariota — first in line to win the Heisman Trophy, according to college football player props — the Ducks have spent the entire 2013 campaign building themselves up to be every bit the intimidating force the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide have been all season.

Currently No. 3 in the BCS standings, Oregon has remained in the No. 2 spot in both the USA Today and AP polls, as well as ESPN’s Power Rankings. Stanford, for context, sits fifth in the BCS standings and sixth in the rest.

Given that, and that this is Oregon’s last date with a currently ranked opponent, expect the Ducks to come out swinging against their conference rival. Not only will Oregon be looking to leave the tilt with its win streak intact, but the Ducks will also look to do so in such a convincing manner that critics, oddsmakers, fans and judges start reconsidering how they size up against big, bad Bama.

They beat the Bruins by 28, the Huskies by 21 and have posted 55 or more points against every other opponent they’ve faced this season. Might the Ducks have something special in store for Stanford?

With bowl season fast approaching, games like these can be the difference between playing for bragging rights and playing for the throne.

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