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Stanford vs Oregon: Previewing how to slow down the Ducks

SB Nation's Stanford blog looks at what makes the Oregon offense so great and how Stanford can attempt to counteract those strengths. The Cardinal visit the undefeated Ducks in a crucial Pac-12 North showdown at 5 p.m. PT Sunday.

Doug Pensinger

The Stanford Cardinal are in the national spotlight on Saturday as they visit the undefeated Oregon Ducks in Eugene, Ore. With Stanford No. 13 and Oregon No. 2 in the latest BCS rankings, the crucial Pac-12 North game has the attention of the entire country.

Oregon brings the nation's most explosive offense to the table and in the raucous Autzen Stadium, the Stanford defense will certainly have it's hands full. As Todd Husak from SB Nation's Stanford blog, Rule of Tree wrote:

I'm guessing defensive coordinator Derek Mason has spent some sleepless nights following the Cardinal win over the Oregon State Beavers last week trying to figure out how to keep the Chip Kelly-led offense from scoring 50-plus, something the Ducks have done against Stanford each of the last two years.

Husak goes on to examine some of the things that the Ducks do so well and what Stanford's counter to that strength needs to be. One area Husak focuses on is the Ducks' speed option rushing attack, writing:

Oregon is able to create running lanes by spreading the formations and making defenses declare how they are going to play. The zone read option can attack the middle of the field and the perimeter depending on how the defense plays each snap. Stanford's defensive linemen have to be able to shed blocks and the inside linebackers have to maintain gap discipline because Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas are as good as it gets at turning two yards of daylight into 80 yard touchdown runs. It is also critical for Derek Mason to disguise the safety pressures and do everything possible to confuse young Marcus Mariota.

Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. PT with the game broadcast nationally on ABC.