Harbaugh will be an interested viewer of USC-Oregon

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Lots of folks will be interested in the Oregon-USC game, but it's doubtful any will be more interested than Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh.

The Cardinal have a bye this weekend, but their next two opponents are -- you guessed it -- Oregon at home on Nov. 7 and trip to USC on the Nov. 14.

Yes, Harbaugh said he'll be doing two things while watching Saturday night.

"Dissecting it and enjoying it," Harbaugh said. "It's going to be a matchup of two top-10 teams. Two teams that are playing very good football right now. But also watching it and dissecting it."

Stanford's matchup with the Ducks could be particularly intriguing. The Cardinal are tough at home and the Ducks, win or lose, will be coming down from a huge game.

Last year, Stanford gave Oregon all it could handle in Autzen Stadium before yielding 35-28 on LeGarrette Blount’s 3-yard touchdown run with six seconds left.

Blount, by the way, might be returning from his suspension just in time to face the Cardinal.

Stanford, 5-3 overall and 4-2 in the Pac-10, needs one win to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2001. The only problem is the schedule. Besides the Ducks and Trojans, the Cardinal play host to rival California and Notre Dame.

Stanford has its own comings and goings on the depth chart. Defensive tackle Matt Masifilo, who has been out since hurting his knee at Wake Forest in Week 2, saw action in the win over Arizona State. Harbaugh also expressed hope that defensive end Erik Lorig, who's been out with a groin injury for three weeks, might be able to play against the Ducks.

The bad news is offensive tackle Allen Smith, who earned a sixth year this season due to injury hardship, will be out for four to six weeks after spraining his MCL. The good news is it's his right knee, not the left knee that essentially killed two seasons for him. He could return for the Notre Dame game on Nov. 28. And, perhaps, a bowl game.

Did we call this a bye week for Stanford? Actually, Stanford has nothing of the sort, Harbaugh said. He called it "an improvement week."

The Cardinal already have done a lot of that. Do they have enough to find at least one more win?