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Oregon Football: Who Poses the Biggest Threat for the Ducks Now?

Alex TamCorrespondent IIINovember 5, 2012

Oregon Football: Who Poses the Biggest Threat for the Ducks Now?

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    The Oregon Ducks enter a new week ranked No. 2 in the human polls, but No. 3 in the BCS.

    Many experts say if Oregon simply keeps winning and taking care of business, it will eventually leapfrog Kansas State for the No. 2 ranking and a spot in the BCS National Championship Game (via Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com).

    With three games left in the regular season and a potential date in the Pac-12 championship game, who is the biggest threat left for the Ducks to snap their undefeated season and a spot in the BCS title game?

    Let's break down the rest of the schedule.

Week 11: Oregon at California

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    California Golden Bears

    When: Nov. 10, 7:30 p.m. PT at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, Calif.

    Record: 3-7 overall, 2-5 Pac-12, fifth in North division

    Last game: Lost to Washington Huskies, 21-13, at home

    Last meeting vs. Oregon: Lost to Ducks, 43-15, at Eugene, Ore.

    Ranking: N/A

     

    Why the Ducks should be worried

    It was just two years ago when Oregon last met Cal in Berkeley, Calif., and the Bears put up a huge challenge and limited the Ducks' offense to one touchdown.

    Oregon won the game, 15-13 (via GoDucks.com). Memorial Stadium has been a tough place to play for the Ducks in recent years, as Oregon lost meetings in 2006 and 2008.

    The Bears' resume this season includes a victory over No. 19 UCLA, 43-17, on Oct. 6 and a near-upset over Ohio State early on. Cal always has talented players, but the question is whether they can put it together at the right time.

     

    Why the Ducks should win

    Cal is struggling big time over the last three weeks, including an ugly 21-13 loss to Washington at home.

    The Bears need to score points, but they've only topped the 30-point mark three times out of 10 games this season.

    Starting quarterback Zach Maynard is doubtful after a left knee injury forced him out in the fourth quarter against Washington (via Yahoo! Sports). The Bears could also be without star wide receiver Keenan Allen for possibly another week or two due to a knee injury (via Jeff Faraudo of the San Jose Mercury News).

    A game without their starting quarterback and star wideout could get ugly.

Week 12: Stanford at Oregon

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    Stanford Cardinal

    When: Nov. 17, time TBA at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore.

    Record: 7-2 overall, 5-1 Pac-12, third in North division

    Last game: Defeated Colorado, 48-0, on the road

    Last meeting vs. Oregon: Lost to Ducks, 53-30, in Stanford, Calif.

    Ranking: No. 15 (USA Today Poll)

     

    Why the Ducks should be worried

    Just when people thought Stanford would struggle without Andrew Luck, the Cardinal have played well. Despite a minor hiccup against Washington, their only other defeat came against undefeated Notre Dame in overtime.

    Stanford's defense also limited USC to its lowest point total of the season in a 21-14 win. This after the Trojans just posted 51 points on Oregon's defense. The Cardinal are 12th in the nation in points allowed (16.6 points) and have allowed just one team to score more than 20 points—a 54-48 win over Arizona.

    Running back Stepfan Taylor is one of the best in the Pac-12 with 947 rushing yards—fourth in the conference.

     

    Why the Ducks should win

    It has been a while since Stanford won in Eugene. The last time was 11 years ago when the Cardinal beat then-undefeated Oregon, 49-42, in 2001.

    Stanford could also be dealing with a quarterback controversy with backup Kevin Hogan making a case to supplant an inconsistent Josh Nunes (via San Francisco Chronicle). Questions at quarterback are not exactly what you want before heading into a matchup against an opportunistic Oregon defense.

Week 13: Oregon at Oregon State

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    Oregon State Beavers

    When: Nov. 24, time TBA at Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Ore.

    Record: 7-1 overall, 5-1 Pac-12, second in North division

    Last game: Defeated Arizona State, 36-26, at home

    Last meeting vs. Oregon: Lost to Ducks, 49-21, at Eugene, Ore.

    Ranking: No. 12 (USA Today poll)

     

    Why the Ducks should be worried

    Resurgent Oregon State could play spoiler on the final day of the regular season for the Ducks. Despite a slip-up against Washington, the Beavers have arguably been the Pac-12's second-best team behind Oregon.

    Quarterback Cody Vaz has replaced Sean Mannion as the starter and excelled last week with 267 yards and three touchdowns. Despite losing starting running back Storm Woods, it wasn't a problem as backup Terron Ward rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown against Arizona State.

    The 116th meeting of the Civil War is a toss-up. The game is in Corvallis, and there is nothing that the Beavers and their fans would love more than to knock the Ducks off their national championship run.

     

    Why the Ducks should win

    Oregon has dominated the series recently, winning the last four meetings. The Beavers haven't beaten the Ducks since 2007 in Eugene. Their last win over Oregon in Corvallis was in 2006.

    De'Anthony Thomas has a stellar game last year with 71 rushing yards and 86 receiving yards against the Beavers. The Ducks have won the last two meetings in Corvallis, including a 65-38 victory in 2008.

    Head coach Chip Kelly has never lost a game to OSU head coach Mike Riley. Recent history is on the Ducks' side, but anything can happen in the Civil War.

So Who Is the Toughest Matchup Left for the Ducks?

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    With Oregon being an overwhelming favorite against Cal, the question now is between Stanford and Oregon State.

    The Ducks should be a huge favorite again at home against the Cardinal, so that leaves the best for last.

    The Beavers should pose the biggest challenge for Oregon out of the final three games. You can't ignore the fact that the game will be played in hostile territory in Corvallis, and Oregon State is having one of its finest seasons in recent history.

    The Pac-12 championship game could be against UCLA or a rematch against USC, but with that being an unknown at this point, look for the Civil War to have a lot on the line.

    Who's your choice? Cal, Stanford or Oregon State?

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