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Pac-12 Notebook: Ducks, Cardinal well rested for showdown

The SportsXchange

Third-ranked Oregon and No. 5 Stanford had a couple extra days to prepare for their Pac-12 Conference showdown.

The Ducks and Cardinal each had a bye on Saturday, giving them 10 days to prepare for Thursday night's nationally-televised game in Palo Alto.

The 8-0 Ducks rank second in the nation by averaging 55.6 points and 632.1 yards of total offense, but Stanford (7-1) will provide Oregon with its toughest test. The Cardinal gave Oregon its lone defeat last year with a 17-14 overtime win in Eugene.

Stanford is allowing 19.4 points per game, but will be without defensive end Ben Gardner for the rest of the season due to injury.

"They have so much experience when you look at their front seven and their defense in general, only one guy is not a senior," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. "They have a bunch of familiar faces playing really hard. They are real athletic and are playing really well."

Oregon's defense has been even better than the Cardinal, leading the conference by allowing 16.9 points per game despite graduating seniors Dion Jordan and Kiko Alonso to the NFL along with leading tackler Michael Clay.

"They are missing three dynamic players, but the crazy part is that their defense as a whole looks better," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "They are fast, big, and have guys with length. The combination of what their coach does with their abilities makes it hard to move the ball."

The Ducks won the North Division title in 2011 while Stanford won last year, and Thursday's winner looks likely to claim the title this season.

FIVE BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS FROM WEEK 10 IN THE PAC-12:

1. Arizona State looks ready to become the first team other than UCLA to win the South Division. The Sun Devils are 4-1 in the Pac-12, the only team in the division with less than two losses, as they look to end UCLA's two-year reign as division champs.

2. Some teams that started the season with impressive records benefitted from an easy early schedule. Oregon State started 6-1 before losing to Stanford and USC, Washington State was 4-2 before losing to Oregon State, Oregon and Arizona State, and Washington was 4-0 before losing to Stanford, Oregon and Arizona State.

3. Ed Orgeron will not likely to be promoted to head coach at USC, but he is making the job attractive for the Trojans' coaching search. The Trojans were in disarray after an 0-2 conference start led to the firing of coach Lane Kiffin, but USC has won three straight games and has qualified for a bowl game.

4. Arizona has turned its season around with three straight wins to get into the South Division race, but its title hopes will be determined this week. Arizona hosts UCLA Saturday and needs a win to stay in the race.

5. Colorado and California look like their only chance for a conference win will come in two weeks when the play in Boulder. The Buffs and Bears have been blown out almost every week in Pac-12 play.
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